Yossi and the Monkeys

A Shavuot Story

  • Interest Level: Preschool - Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 1

Yossi has no money to buy the food and flowers his family needs for Shavuot. He tries selling the kippahs his wife sewed, but he has no luck—until a mischievous monkey shows up. The monkey’s antics attract customers and win Yossi’s heart . . . but did Yossi’s new friend come to stay?

Format Your Price Add
Interest Level Preschool - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 1
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Copyright 2017
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2017-01-01
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV033020, JUV002020, JUV017090
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Lexile 580
Features Awards and Reviewed

Author: Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod

Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod lives in northern Israel with her family. Her previous book with illustrator Shirley Waisman, Yossi and the Monkeys, has become a Shavuot favorite.

Illustrator: Shirley Waisman

Shirley Waisman has published more than eighty picture books. Her work has appeared in children's books and magazines and art exhibitions. Shirley is currently the illustrator coordinator of her regional chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).


  • Middle East Division, Winner, 2017


Jewish Book Council

“Only peripherally about Shavuot, this story is reminiscent of the classic Caps for Sale, in that it involves caps (kippahs) and monkeys. Yossi has no money for challah or blintzes to celebrate Shavuot, so his wife Malka makes three kippahs for Yossi to sell in the market. When no one wants to buy them, he sits down to rest beneath a tree, and when he wakes, the kippahs are gone, stolen by a monkey swinging through the branches above him. Sound familiar? The adorable monkey, whom Yossi names Zelig (blessing) attracts customers so that Yossi leaves the market with some rubles in his pocket, enough to buy vegetables for soup, an apple for Zelig, and fabric for Malka to make more kippahs. Man and monkey continue to sell kippahs until one day it rains, and Zelig disappears.

Though cheerfully illustrated, this derivative story is more about friendship than Shavuot, and adding a blintz doesn’t make it more so. An additional holiday choice for readers, but cute enough otherwise.”—Jewish Book Council

Publishers Weekly

“Hoping to earn some extra money to buy challah, blintzes, and flowers for Shavuot, a man named Yossi sets out with three kippahs, sewn by his wife, which are promptly stolen by a monkey as Yossi naps under a tree. Just when things are starting to resemble a Jewish riff on Esphyr Slobodkina’s classic Caps for Sale, MacLeod turns the monkey into a help, rather than a menace: his playful presence (and juggling talent) make him a perfect sales sidekick, and soon Yossi’s business is booming. The story takes some odd turns from there—it turns out that the monkey, dubbed Zelig, belongs to a traveling circus, requiring some negotiation between Yossi and the circus manager, as well as kippahs for eight other performing monkeys—but Waisman sustains a kooky atmosphere in her brightly colored images of round-headed, red-nosed monkeys and big-eyed villagers.”—Publishers Weekly