Monkey-See, Monkey-Do (An Indian story: this retelling by Hugh Lupton)
Once upon a time, there was a man who sold hats, and he was pushing his cart along a road through the jungle. And what was in his cart? Hats, of course! There were: top hats, bobble hats, flat caps, bonnets, balaclavas and bowler hats… (interaction with children here - they suggest types of hat) …all carefully packed and ready for market.
But.. there was a hole in the road. One of the wheels of the cart got caught, and the cart tipped over. It tipped right over, and all the hats spilled this way and that way on to the road.
Now… in the trees of that jungle there lived hundreds of monkeys, and when they saw all those hats lying in the road they came laughing and chattering and swinging down from the branches. Each one of them grabbed a hat, and put it on his head. Before the man could shout ‘Stop!’ all his hats had been taken. The only one left was the hat he was wearing on his own head.
He looked up into the trees. On every branch there was a monkey with a hat. There were monkeys with top hats, monkeys with bobble hats, monkeys with flat caps, monkeys with bonnets, balaclavas and bowlers. They were all looking down at him.
The man was cross! He put his hands to his mouth and shouted up at them ‘Give me back my hats!’ (invite children to repeat, with actions) But… what a monkey sees, a monkey does. They all put their hands to their mouths and shouted back at him. (Invite children to repeat actions, with ‘monkey squeak’ noise!) The man was angry! He picked up a stock and waved it at them. ‘Give me back my hats or there’ll be trouble!’ (repetition, as before) But… monkey see, monkey do (children could join in this chorus). They all broke sticks from the branches and waved them back at him. (repetition, as before) The man was furious! He stamped on the ground with his feet. ‘Give me back my hats or there’ll be double-trouble!’ (repetition, as before) But… monkey see, monkey do (chorus). They all stamped their feet and bellowed back at him. (repetition, as before) The man was sad. He buried his face in his hands and began to cry. ‘Oh my precious hats. How will I ever get you back?’ (repetition, as before) But… monkey see, monkey do (chorus). They all buried their faces in their hands and sobbed back at him. (repetition, as before) The man looked up at the monkeys. The monkeys looked down at the man. Suddenly, the man pulled the hat from his head and hurled it on to the ground. ‘Well, that’s enough of that! No more selling hats for me! I’ll have to find myself another job!’ He lifted the wheel out of its hole and pushed his empty cart away along the road. But… monkey see, monkey do. (chorus) They all pulled their hats from their heads, hurled them down on to the ground, and scampered away into the shadows of the jungle.
And when the man looked over his shoulder, what did he see? Hats of course, lying in the road! There were: top hats, bobble hats, flat caps, bonnets, balaclavas and bowler hats… He ran back an loaded them carefully into his cart. Then he put his own hat on to his head and pushed his cart along the road towards the market.
And that was the end of that story.