Photo copyright 2015 Tish Farrell. Art copyright Kathleen Collins Howell
The Monkeys’ Wedding was my first children’s short story. I wrote it while we were living in Zambia (see Letters from Lusaka 1 & 2) . It was also the first piece of work accepted for publication. This stroke of luck was due to my good friend, artist and illustrator, Kathleen Howell. At the time she was Professor of Children’s Illustration at SUNY Buffalo, and had received several freelance commissions from America’s well beloved children’s magazine group, Cricket.
Unbeknownst to me she had sent a copy of my story to the then Art Director. He liked it and, after much editing, I received a contract. Time passed. Quite a lot of time in fact. Things, as I was to learn from future contracts, can move slowly at Cricket Magazine. They like to do their best by their writers and illustrators, and in each monthly edition of their magazines, combines submissions that complement one another, or follow a theme. In the meantime, Kathy said she would like to illustrate it, and finally in 2001, some 7 years after I’d written it, the story saw the light of day in Spider Magazine. It was also given a re-run in 2009.
The thing that sparked the story in the first place was the colloquial expression ‘a monkeys’ wedding’. It is possibly of Zulu origin, and I found it in my South African Pocket Oxford Dictionary, the only dictionary I could find to buy in Lusaka. (There were hardly any books in Zambia in the early 1990s). The phrase means simultaneous sunshine and rain, and I was so pleased to discover it, I set about creating my own folk story to explain it.
And so evolved the humorous tale of the monkey chief who was about to marry off his daughter, but made the tactical error of inviting everyone except Rain to the wedding. Rain, in a big sulk, then drenches the forest for days. Something has to be done, or the wedding will be a wash-out.
Copyright 2001 Spider Magazine: August 2001 and September 2009
It’s interesting re-reading the text some 20 years on. I probably wouldn’t write it quite this way now, but Kathy’s illustrations are still brilliant. The top photo is some of her original artwork done with mixed media collage.
And now here’s a photo of an actual ‘monkeys’ wedding’ taken at Hunter’s Lodge, Kiboko, in Kenya during a sudden brief and sunny deluge. This place, with its many vervet monkeys, was also a source of inspiration for the story. Aaah. Happy days of finding monkeys under the bed, or rifling through my bag.
copyright 2015 Tish Farrell
47 thoughts on “The Monkeys’ Wedding: where rain meets sun”
I really love this. A late congrats on the publication. The rain and sun meeting, is something that happens all too often here in Florida. I like having a new name for it. Thank you so much for sharing.
Just the words ‘monkeys’ wedding’ make you smile, don’t they. Am pleased you like the new name for an often irritating weather event 🙂
I picture two little monkies dressed to the nines.
Oh what fun 🙂
Delightful! And of course, after so long down here I am familiar with the term. 😉
I spent a single day in Zambia in 1999, visiting a Lozi village, it’s a nice memory even if touristy.
Zambia is an amazing country. Worth another visit, I think Gilly 🙂
Thank you, Cindy
Great story and absolutely marvelous illustrations! Wow!!
I’m taking a bow. And for Kathy. Thank you.
Oh how lovely, Tish! The title brings a big smile to my face. 🙂
Many, many, very, very belated congratulations on your first published children’s story. Well done. ❤
Many thanks, Dina 🙂
So lovely! Thank you
Many thanks 🙂
Great story and the illustration is lovely!
A lovely story Tish. Makes perfect sense to me too. I wondered about the origin of this expression I had because here in the north people do not know it. 🙂
Hello, Nomzi. Nice to ‘see’ you here and thanks for commenting. Hope all is well with you.
All is well here dear. It is April still, yes, but the sun has returned. I was not too far away. I hope that all is well with you too. 🙂
Trying to catch up with my allotment after months of rain, but yes, dear Nomzi. I am fine, and spring indeed almost seems set to stay.
I can imagine, yes. Have a lovely and relaxing weekend dear. 🙂
That expression reminds me of one of my favorites: “the cat’s pajamas,” meaning something really great. I love your story and the illustrations are amazing.
The cat’s pajamas is a great expression, Janet. Now I wonder what story that might spark 🙂
You’re a clever one, Tish ! – I think it must take enormous talent to write at that level, truly ! It’s easy enough to write like an adult; but another thing entirely to write simplistically and not ‘talk down’.
Complimenti, bella !
You are very kind, really. One might also say it’s more to do with not altogether growing up 🙂
The ideal ! 😀
Nice to hear about your first publication. I love both pictures from Kenya. The vervet monkey reading the Nation and the Standard, not unheard of 😀
Yes, I do so love that shot with the newspapers. The vervets at Hunter’s Lodge were indeed very knowing 🙂
We too have this expression in our place. In my language, Kannada, we say ‘Mangana maduve’. Mangana is Minkey’s , madive is wedding 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
That’s really interesting to know, and of course there has long been contact between India and Africa, through centuries of trade and more recent settlement. So perhaps there is even more of a story to tell about this saying. Your comment is much appreciated 🙂
Lovely, Tish! Every bit of it. I’m going to share the excerpt with my boy when he’s feeling better. My brother went to Buffalo. (We grew up in NYC.) I love the way you came up with your story and the neat glimpse into how your story (eventually) surfaced. The illustrations do justice to your work.
Oh you lovely person, Diana. And how nice that you’ll show it your son. Hope he’s feeling better soon. You can maybe get the original Spider edition in your library, though September 2009 is going back a bit now. Do you use the Cricket magazines for your home schooling? Tx
We actually haven’t used Cricket. Will ask the library. =)
It certainly looks like a fine book. An interesting expression that stays with ya.
Cheers, Bumba, may the sun always shine through your rainy days 🙂
Beautiful story about the story, and the illustrations are lovely. Makes me think, how wondrous to touch young minds this way: to spark the imagination, and the desire to tell stories themselves, one day. It’s really a lovely gift you were able to present and receive, at the same time.
The best gift isn’t it, where giving and receiving are all one 🙂
I enjoyed reliving these memories with you, Tish, and it’s a great expression 🙂 That top illustration is wonderful too.
I love that image too. It was brilliant having a good chum (to say nothing of her being a professor of illustration to boot) to work on the story. What luck!
Oh, I like these illustrations too. Funny, we have an expression here for the simultaneous rain and sunshine wedding – a gypsy wedding, but I don’t know the story of that one. Hope all is well with you, Tish.
Hello, Paula. Glad you like the pix. Interesting your idiom of a gypsy wedding. Now let’s see. How what the origin of that phrase come about 🙂
I am well thank you. Doing much digging. Hope all is well with you, Paula – and you’re not overloaded, nose wise and work wise. Tx
Thanks Tish :). I’m better and not working this weekend, but will be very busy next week before my trip to Portugal.
Beautiful story. I always wanted a pet monkey as a child!
Me too, Kathy 🙂
My schoolfriend who grew up in Kenya told me it was called a monkeys wedding when the rain came down on a sunny day…my husband thought I was dreaming but now I have googled and found out about your story I must look it up!
It is a South African saying that does indeed mean sun and rain together. The South African edition of the Oxford Dictionary suggests it is of Zulu origin.