Publisher: Justicia House; 1st edition (October 29, 2014)
Age Range: 4-8
“Cabana,” a young spider monkey is brought to life to tell her story It’s This Monkey’s Business to help children who are affected by domestic violence and divorce. Cabana, who lives with her parents in a treehouse high up in a rainforest canopy, becomes startled one day from her Mama’s scream, when she is waiting atop a tree branch for her Papa to teach her how to swing. After falling to the forest floor, Cabana frustrated from her parents’ fighting, decides she will search for a new family to be part of. Her persistence is cut short when she braves the river to play with a pink dolphin, unaware she cannot swim. The tragedy brings her parents together to realize they can no longer live together. Cabana reconnects with her Papa, realizing he is the only one that can teach her how to swing.
It’s This Monkey’s Business is an approximately 756 word children’s book targeting ages 4-8, which is set in a rainforest and featuring “Cabana,” a young female Spider Monkey, her parents and rainforest animals. The book is approximately 30 pages long and features full spread color illustrations.
The poetic rhyme in this story and full color illustrations will draw young elementary age children in to Cabana's life. This story does a great job of reassuring kids that just because mom and dad do not live together does not mean they both do not love you and want the best for you, including teaching you how to swing!
The only thing I did not like about this book were the pages were too thick for the binding used. As a result, as we turned the pages they start to fall out in the middle. Normally, I love thick pages, especially for little hands, but in this case it backfired. So we improvised and I just finished pulling the pages apart and punched holes in the book and placed it into a small picture album my son could decorate. Win, win. The story was too impact-full for a small thing like a little bad binding to keep us from reading and talking about this book. It was also a great resource to use for talking with my kids about why running away from problems is not the answer. Although, Cabana's accident made this family realize they did not need to be together, it was the wrong way to deal with the problem. Having Cabana make this poor decision though, opened up the doors for discussions on what Cabana could of done and who she could of told instead of running away to join another clan. This is hands down an easy book to recommend for single, divorced or separated parents and their children who have lived through or are living through domestic violence. Plus, I got this wonderful little parrot bookmark which was helpful in marking the line for my kids to read!
by Cabana (juvenile spider monkey character in It’s This Monkey’s Business)
Thank you for joining us Cabana. We are excited to have you here at Our Family’s Adventure. We know that author Debra Máres’ book you are featured in, It’s This Monkey’s Business, strives to bring awareness to domestic violence. We wish to support that mission and make all children and families aware of it. How can we help?
Cabana: Thanks for having me talk about this important issue. I’m glad you asked how you can help. There are small ways to help, such as learning how to talk about it with kids. Many people have asked me how to talk about domestic violence with their children. I’ve written out a list of important words to talk about with your kids whether they have been exposed to violence or not. Since 3 million kids witness domestic violence, over 275 million kids are exposed to it in their home around the world, and 1 in 3 women will be exposed to it in their lifetime, it’s important to be ready to talk about with kids at the right time.
Can you tell us what is Domestic Violence?
Cabana: Domestic violence is hurting a person that is any gender or age and has a relationship now or had a relationship in the past, with the person hurting them, like marriage, living together, dating, engaged, or have a child in common. People can hurt with things they say that make someone feel bad or sad. People can even say things about someone else, like their partner’s kids or animals. People can hurt with their bodies, like their hands or feet or other parts of their body in ways that make their partner cry, become sad, scared, or act different. People can also hurt, by interrupting or breaking things, like animals, games, playtime, windows, walls or things around us. Hurting can also happen with objects, like knives, guns or other things that can hurt people or property, even if they scare us but don’t leave a mark on us.
What does a healthy relationship look like?
Cabana: A healthy relationship has open and honest communication where we can grow, learn and develop into strong people and emotionally healthy people. In a healthy relationship, there’s a place where both partners can help decide things together about the relationship.
What is does good emotional health look like?
Cabana: Good emotional health involves having healthy self-esteem (the way you feel about yourself), self-respect (the way you treat yourself) and resilience (the way you handle tough times). Emotional health is doing your best to handle your thinking and emotions rather than letting these things control you. Emotions are a normal part of us, like feeling angry, jealous, sad, grief, love. They help you in life and they affect how you think and behave. Emotional health is choosing healthy ways to express all these emotions that make us who we are and being responsible for them. It’s okay that you have different feelings, it’s good to be aware of them, it’s good to embrace the emotions that come, and try and understand and express emotions in healthy ways. It’s good to develope healthy habits and practice expressing emotions in positive ways.
How can the police help with violence in the home?
Cabana: It can be really scary to think about calling the police, but they can help us and protect us. They are trained and know how to calm down domestic violence. If you feel like you or someone is in danger or might get hurt or is being hurt, you can dial 9-1-1 from any type of cell phone, pay phone or phone connected to the wall, even if the bill hasn’t been paid or you don’t think it works. After you dial 9-1-1, there will be a person on the line that will get you help. Talk to a counselor or an adult you trust about a plan for calling 9-1-1 in the future.
Is there someone to call for help?
Cabana: No matter where you are in the United States, if you want to talk to someone about domestic violence happening to you, around you or someone you care about, you can pick up any phone and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or Alternatives to Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-339-SAFE or alternativestodv.org. You can call ANYTIME and ANY DAY and they have people that know a lot about Domestic Violence and can help you. If you are outside of the United States, you can call anytime to 866-USWOMEN for the American Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center.
What is 9-1-1?
Cabana: If you are in the United States and feel like you or someone is in danger or might get hurt or is being hurt, you can dial 9-1-1 from any type of cell phone, pay phone or phone connected to the wall, even if the bill hasn’t been paid or you don’t think it works. After you dial 9-1-1, there will be a person on the line that will get you help. Most countries outside the U.S. have a three digit emergency number, so make sure you know what the three digit number is in your country.
What is a shelter?
Cabana: A shelter is a place we may need to live so it will protect us from domestic violence and give us food, clothing, a place to sleep and other help that we need to get back up on our feet and stay safe. Some examples are the home of a friend, relative, neighbor, or shelter for victims of domestic violence like those nationwide that can be found at http://www.domesticshelters.
What is a Separation?
Cabana: A separation is when our parents decide to live separately from eachother while they are sorting things out like money, their relationship, and how they will parent us. We may still see both our parents but it’s usually at different times and places unless they decide something else. Even though parents separate, we should still be fixed breakfast in the morning, read books with, and tucked to bed at night. It just means Mom and Dad will do it separately and at different houses. We will have to switch between visiting both homes.
What is a Divorce?
Cabana: Often after our parents separate and they decide they want to stay apart or are still not getting along, they will fill out paperwork and take it to the judge at the courthouse. The judge looks over the paperwork, asks questions and decides what to do. When the paperwork is approved by the judge, the separation is over and the “divorce” means it is final and our parents can keep separate finances, last names, and see us on separate occasions, depending on the agreements.
What is fear of abandonment?
Cabana: when growing up and not feeling protected from domestic violence, kids can have huge fears from feeling alone. It might feel like we have to hide something about ourselves, or that we’re not important or worth much. Those fears can come up again in different situations where we are again feeling alone and unimportant.
Do you know anything about seeing a counselor/therapist?
Cabana: When domestic violence is going on around us in our home, it makes us scared, confused, mad, alone and sad. Sometimes when thing happen to us, it’s hard to talk about them. People might tell us not to talk about them or we just don’t want to. When it feels safe, counselors or therapists can help us talk about our feelings, what we saw or heard, and how we feel. Talking to a therapist can help because they go to school for a long time to learn how to help us and they really care about kids like us. They want us to feel safe and understand what’s going on, so we can get back to being kids...or monkeys... who like to swing from trees or jungle gyms! Speaking with a therapist can help you raise your self-esteem (how you feel about yourself) and understand that what happened is not your fault. Sometimes counselors are paid for by your health and medical insurance that you can find the number on your medical insurance card; other times you can find them free.
What do recovery groups help with?
Cabana: There are groups of people who meet often and help eachother feel strong because they have friends or family who have drinking or drug problems too. One of these groups is called Al-Anon/Alateen and they have them for kids, women, men, in English & Spanish or other languages. We share stories, information and hope that things will get better. Sometimes drinking or problems and domestic violence happen together or make us feel the same way. You can find them on the internet at www.al-anon.alateen.org or call to find a meeting near you at 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666).
Thank you Cabana for this important information and resource list to share with kids and families. We feel better equipped to talk to kids about domestic violence and help them be aware of it when it’s happening to someone they care about. We look forward to checking out your book It’s This Monkey’s Business.
Cabana: Thanks for taking the time to interview me and talk about this important issue. Feel free to stay in touch at www.DebraMaresNovels.com. I hope you are never affected by domestic violence, but now you have some information to help you if you know someone who is.
Debra is the granddaughter of a Mexican migrant farm worker and factory seamstress, was born and raised in Los Angeles, was the first to graduate college in my family, and grew up dancing Ballet Folklorico and Salsa. Her own family story includes struggles with immigration, domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse and teen pregnancy, which she addresses in her novels. She followed a calling at 11 years old to be an attorney and voice for women, and appreciates international travel and culture. Her life’s mission is to break the cycle of victimization and domestic violence.
Debra is also the co-founding Executive Director of Women Wonder Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization implementing creative intervention and mentoring programs for at-risk youth. In 2012, Debra self-published Volume 1 of her debut legal thriller series, The Mamacita Murders featuring Gaby Ruiz, a sex crimes prosecutor haunted by her mother’s death at the hands of an abusive boyfriend. In 2013, Debra released her second crime novel, The Suburban Seduccion, featuring “The White Picket Fence” killer Lloyd Gil, who unleashes his neonatal domestic violence-related trauma on young women around his neighborhood.
To bring to life “Cabana,” Debra partnered with 16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia and Los Angeles based professional illustrator Taylor Christensen.
16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia attends high school in Panorama City, California, is the Los Angeles youth delegate for the Anti-Defamation League’s National Youth Leadership Mission in Washington D.C., an ASB member and AP student and enjoys reading, crafting and knitting.
Taylor Christensen is a Los Angeles-based illustrator holding a BFA from Otis College of Art & Design, focuses on fantastical creatures and surreal imagery, and produces artwork for illustration, character and concept design.
Her latest book is the children’s picture book, It’s This Monkey’s Business.
For More Information
- Visit Debra Mares’ website.
- Connect with Debra on Facebook and Twitter.
- Visit Debra’s blog.
- More books by Debra Mares.
- Contact Debra