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The Monkeyface Chronicles Essay

For my verbal-visual collage, I chose to read the book The Monkeyface Chronicles by Richard Scarsbrook. Richard is a Canadian author who attended Western University where he earned an Honours BA in history. He also attended U of Ottawa and received his Bachelor of Education. Richard published his book the Monkeyface Chronicles in 2010. I chose to read this book for my project because it was recommended by the library staff at NT. Also, the novel won the Ontario Library Association’s White Pine Award in 2011. The White Pine Award is an annual literature award that has awarded young adult novels since 2002. Other books like Little Brother by Cory Doctorow and Mostly Happy by Pam Bustin have also received White Pine Awards. The Monkeyface Chronicles is a fictional novel about a young boy named Philip who suffers from an extreme facial deformity. All the other kids make fun of Philip and call him names like ‘Monkeyface’.

While Philip suffers through his deformity and constant bullying from his peers, his twin brother, Michael is athletic, popular and good-looking. When a serious hockey accident leaves Michael paralysed, the roles of the two brothers are ironically switched and they learn things about each other and themselves that they didn’t know before. In my collage, I decided to choose the red background because red symbolises strength. Throughout the whole novel, both Philip and Michael have to be strong and stand-up for themselves and each other. One major theme of the novel is ‘just because someone looks different, doesn’t mean that they are incapable.’ This is a large theme of the book because although Philip has a deformity that makes people think he isn’t capable of doing anything; Philip is still very much capable and just wants to be treated like a normal boy his age would be treated. This theme is shown through my collage because I included a picture of Stephen Hawking.

Stephen Hawking has a motor neuron disease which leaves him almost completely paralysed. Although his disability leaves people thinking he cannot accomplish very much while spending his life in a wheelchair, he proved everyone wrong. He was written many books and has received awards in Astronomy and Sciences. Stephen and Philip are similar because they were both doubted by peers and society but proved them wrong by showing that they were capable. Another major theme in the novel is ‘although someone may look tough and strong on the outside, they could be shy and hurting on the inside.’

This is a theme of the story because Michael and Philip’s older brother, Dennis, looks tough and strong on the outside, but on the inside he craves love and attention from his parents and grandfather. I communicated this through the collage because I included a photo of an x-ray. With an x-ray, you can look through the layers of skin and muscle and see what’s really underneath, which is bone. With Dennis, when you look through the hard shield he has put up, you can see the need and craving for love and care. One more major theme of the novel is ‘just because something looks nice or innocent, doesn’t mean it is.’

In the novel, this is an important because the girls that bullied Philip because of his deformity would get away with it because they would send innocent and cute notes to teachers saying that they were ‘the bestest teacher ever!’ This would help the girls because no one believed that these cute girls would ever bully a boy with a facial deformity. I chose a picture of Audrey Hepburn smoking a cigarette because seeing a young, beautiful woman smoking makes it look cool, and even innocent but it is still very unhealthy. This is an example of things not being as they seem.


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