Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

Book review by
Peter Lewis, Common Sense Media
Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business Book Poster Image
Mocking monkeys, rewarding repetition make this a classic.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Offers a view of an eastern European village and shows some typical monkey behavior.

Positive Messages

Sometimes conventional approaches to problem solving don't work. When you're ready to give up, you may have a breakthrough.

Positive Role Models & Representations

After the monkeys ignore his angry demand for his caps, the peddler begins to walk away instead of taking more aggressive action -- and he gets his caps back after all. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that kids are delighted by both the teasing monkeys and the tantrum-throwing peddler in Caps for Sale. First published in 1940, the book feels both charmingly old-fashioned and refreshingly modern, thanks to the beautifully hued artwork by Esphy Slobodkina. On the occasion of the book's 75th anniversary in 2015, Slobodkina's friend and assistant published a sequel, More Caps for Sale: Another Tale of Mischievous Monkeys, that preserves the spirit of the original.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 1-year-old Written bynikki butler April 16, 2009

i thought the book was really cute

i remember my mother reading it to me when i was a kid. i still have the book and i read it to my 1 year old already, not that he understands it but he loves me... Continue reading
Parent of an infant-year-old Written byteacherpeach_68 March 30, 2009
Kid, 11 years old October 7, 2012

Based On ME

It's a really good book for kids. When I was 4, I read this and it was an amazing story. And it's still good. It's a great book to show kids how... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 29, 2010


it is nice.

What's the story?

Monkey see, monkey do ... and the peddler, too! He indulges in an afternoon nap and wakes to find a bunch of monkeys have swiped all the caps he planned to sell. He can't get the thieving, mimicking monkeys to give his caps back. He throws his own hat on the ground in frustration. Presto! The pestering monkeys throw all the hats to the ground, too, and the peddler gets back to work.

Is it any good?

This retelling of an old folktale gently motors the story forward against a beautiful backdrop of an eastern eastern European village, caught on a drowsy day with only the peddler about. CAPS FOR SALE uses fun repetition and predictable rhythms that delight kids, from the mocking monkeys to the very particular order of the peddler's checked, gray, brown, blue, and red caps. Author Esphyr Slobodkina, an accomplished abstract artist, illustrates the story with line drawings and the colors of earth and sky, plus a rich barn-red.

The smiling monkeys are a joy, and children love to see the irritated peddler stomping his feet and throwing his hat to the ground -- it looks more than a little like a child's tantrum. Be ready to read this one again and again; young listeners will happily chime in for the monkeys' teasing "tsz, tsz, tsz."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the monkeys' silly behavior. Do you think they're taunting the peddler or are just curious and playful?

  • Do you think the monkeys would be more cooperative if the peddler asked nicely for his caps back?

  • What do you do when you get frustrated?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and animal stories

Themes & Topics

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