You all know by now that I am an absolute book lover! I love to read! And one of my greatest desires as a mother is to encourage the love of reading in my children.

Ava is now in Grade 2 and she has started to show an interest which really excites me. She doesn’t want to have a story read to her anymore, she wants to READ the story herself. 

I tweeted something about this towards the end of last year and local author, Penny Haw, reached out and asked if we’d like to read her book in exchange for a review.

Nicko – The Tale of a Vervet Monkey on an African Farm

Here’s a little intro to the book:

Of course, with Ava’s love and obsession with animals, I knew she’d totally love the book. 


This is the true tale of Alice Kirk and Nicko, the baby vervet monkey that was found abandoned on her home farm in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Alice and her husband Jack shared their home with a menagerie of animals – both domestic and wild! Alice agreed to raise Nicko and he remained there as her companion until he died of old age at 17. The story encompasses his interaction with the other animals of the household, as well as humans. It carries the reader through a range of adventures and emotions from the wonderfully whacky and hilarious to alarming and sometimes sad. Author Penny Haw is the granddaughter of Alice and throughout her childhood, Penny was entertained with the stories of Nicko’s escapades. She now retells these tales in the first person through Alice’s ‘voice’. Children (of all ages) will enjoy them, and the relationship between Nicko and Alice, and Nicko and the other animal species, will fascinate all animal lovers.


Our thoughts:

While the book is aimed at children of all ages, there were words and passages that Ava struggled within her Grade 2 reading experience. But we read the book together so I would take over reading duties when she was either too tired to try by herself or if she struggled with certain parts.

It’s definitely a story that children will love and is a great read for bedtime stories that can be enjoyed by both the parents and the children.

I loved the African flavor that is woven into the story, which was both funny and sad in parts. It sounds so cliche but the book and story is a delight. It took me back to my own childhood when my friend and next door neighbor had a squirrel monkey as a pet and the fun we had with that little monkey. Obviously, knowing better as an adult, I realize that was a terribly cruel thing to do, the way their pet monkey was kept, but there is something about the story that brought back the innocence and the wonder of my childhood and my own great passion and love for animals. 

Ava and Hannah (who listened to the story) loved it. They laughed at Nicko’s antics and cried and went on an absolutely magical journey through the story of Nicko woven through this book.

A Proudly South African Five Star Rating for us on Nicko – The Tale of a  Vervet Monkey Living on an African Farm.

You can buy a digital copy here: