Summary and book reviews of Monkey Dancing by Daniel Glick

Monkey Dancing

A Father, Two Kids and a Journey to the Ends of the Earth

by Daniel Glick

Monkey Dancing
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2003, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2004, 384 pages

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Book Summary

For anyone who dreams of traveling to the world's most exotic places, for anyone already navigating that wild journey called parenting, Monkey Dancing is by turns fascinating, funny, and wise.

After the death of his brother and the sudden end of his marriage, and after his ex-wife moved to another state leaving him alone with their two young children, Dan Glick embarked on single fatherhood in an unusual way: he took his kids on a journey around the world. The idea was to go see some of the world's rare life forms before they disappeared from the planet, and to do it before the kids themselves would grow up and chart their own paths.

In the summer of 2001 Dan, Zoe, and Kolya took off from Colorado for a six-month journey on which they would see the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the orangutans of Borneo, Javan Rhinos in Vietnam, the tigers of Nepal, and more. Meeting countless challenges--emotional, logistical and physical--the threesome shared experiences they could not have imagined and would not soon forget. Glick weaves accounts of their encounters with the natural world--and each other--with intimate reflections on his own reckoning with loss, change, and fatherhood, illuminating the commonalities between our relationships with each other, and our relationship with the earth we inhabit.

For anyone who dreams of traveling to the world's most exotic places, for anyone already navigating that wild journey called parenting, Monkey Dancing is by turns fascinating, funny, and wise.

Prologue
A Free Trip Around the World

In the middle of the night, after my daughter Zoe woke me for the third time because she was afraid of the snakes, I wondered, not for the first time, whether this trip had really been such an inspired idea. Earlier, Zoe had been complaining about leeches, and before that mosquitoes, and it dawned on me that unless you were raised in the rainforest, accustomed to strangler figs and spiders the size of gerbils, Borneo was a pretty forbidding environment. For a nine-year-old girl reared in suburban Colorado, this place looked downright menacing. My thirteen-year-old son Kolya, also awakened by his sister, didn't help things when he authoritatively informed Zoe that, since she was the smallest mammal among us, any predator would obviously eat her first.

I shot Kolya a venomous look that temporarily silenced him and reassured Zoe that it was unlikely that snakes could board the 55-foot houseboat (called a klotok) where we were sleeping, moored ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Washington Post

Fitfully amusing, especially when the author's two children...are testing the...limits their father has imposed...

The New Yorker

Glick introduces endangered species and places to his children, who had been raised on flashes of music videos and DSL Internet downloads. Glick's journalistic background informs his odyssey with a sense of scholarly urgency; Dad, his son asks, have many things gone extinct in your lifetime?

Hartford Courant

Glick...has the skills to make this unusual odyssey believable and fascinating.

The Chicago Tribune

Glick's writing is frank, amusing, and mellifluous...

Boulder Daily Camera

Much more than a simple travel story. Glick's memoirs, explore the connective tissue of familial, environmental, political and universal relations...

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

An inspiring globe-trotting road trip with a personal and environmental agenda...definitely an armchair trip worth taking.

Lafayette (CO) News

[Glick] is both a father and an observer...his observations not only provide material, but...allow his paternal tendencies to grow...

USA Today - Tom Kenworthy

Great adventures all, but it's the inner journey that's most interesting, for the author and for Kolya and Zoe, whose own journal entries enliven the story. Over time and distance, all three come to terms in new ways with their losses and altered family arrangements.

Los Angeles Times

.....engaging... follows the three Glicks' day-to-day thrill and turmoil as the make their way around the globe... [a] rich narrative.

Child Magazine

In this inspiring memoir, [Glick] describes his transformative six-month trip around the world with his children.

Publishers Weekly

By the time Glick is finished talking...even readers who lack the author's raging wanderlust will long to encounter unfamiliar cultures and witness firsthand the tigers of Nepal, the Javan rhinos of Vietnam and the orangutans of Borneo.

Library Journal - Rebecca Bollen

A fine blend of travel and inspirational writing; for public libraries.

Kirkus Reviews

Big-hearted, pleasingly fitful narrative of the kind of journey that scours the soul of its karmic gunk.

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