Isa Ines and the Monkey Man is an other world fantasy for ages 6-10.
Isa Ines and the Monkey Man are brother and sister who live alone in a beautiful valley and their life was tranquil.
The Mokey Man begins to have dreams about the Insect Princess who tells him they must leave the valley and search for the most precious thing otherwise winter will never come.
Isa Ines resists until one day a swarm of enormous bees descends on the valley. The Monkey Man says this is the sign from the Insect Princess that they must leave the valley.
“AAAARGH!” Isa Ines screamed as she held on for dear life, but all she got was a mouthful of bee bristles.
“Aye, aye, ayiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie,” she screamed again and held on tighter, but this just made the giant bee fly faster.
Above the roar of the wind she could hear her brother laughing. She fought against the icy wind to look around and to her horror she saw he was sitting bolt upright on a bee so close that she could almost reach him. Her heart leapt into her throat as she watched him throw his head back with laughter and wave his tiny arms around, holding on with just his knees.
“Hold on!” she screamed, “Hold on, you crazy monkey!”
He must have heard her against the wind, for he looked over his shoulder and grinned.
She knew he was enjoying this, but she just wanted to be back home in the valley. Isa-Ines liked the peaceful life they lived in their quiet valley, on their island, far away from the world.
‘What am I doing here?’ she asked herself for the thousandth time. ‘Who in their right mind would follow a little boy and his dreams about a giant grasshopper?’
She looked up to check on Monkey Man again but he was gone.
‘Monkey Man!!!!!!!!! Monkey MAAAAAAAN!!’ She cried. ‘Where are you?’
Just as she was wondering how she would ever be able to steer a giant bee to turn down and land she was nearly knocked off.
Whump! Monkey Man squealed with delight as he leaped from his bee and landed right behind his big sister.
‘I thought you might be feeling frightened’ he shouted against the wind.
Though she didn’t like to admit that this highly dangerous mid-air stunt was a good idea, she did feel a lot safer with his little arms squeezing round her tummy.
‘Where did you really come from?’ she often wondered about her little brother. Though they looked so alike, and so like their mother, two peas from the same pod could never have been so different. Isa Ines, the older, sensible, and yes, sometimes boring one and Monkey Man, who’d chosen his own name and it had stuck because he was so much more adventurous.
Somehow, with the Monkey Man’s arms around her the flight of these giant bees was less frightening. Nestled in behind the bee’s thorax and feeling Monkey Man’s warm breath on her back she began to relax, as best she could, and enjoy the scenery. The blue sky was fading to pink and orange over the forest, and in the distance she could see the castle.
‘This must be Pokolo-Tubbalee’ she thought contentedly to herself. ‘Soon we’ll reach the castle and ask the Queen of Cats about Monkey Man’s puzzle. We’ll be home lickety-spilt.’
She could feel Monkey Man drifting off to sleep behind her. He’d fallen asleep in trees so many times at home that she was not worried about him letting go and slipping off. She smiled and patted his soft round hands.
‘What would I do without you?’ she sighed, ‘You and your crazy adventures.’
‘Uh oh! Monkey Man, wake up. Wake up!’
She patted and shook his arms to wake him. He was still asleep nuzzled into her back so he hadn’t noticed the bee was descending.
‘What is it? What’s happening?’ he yawned. ‘Are we there yet?’
‘No! No! No!’ Isa-Ines was pulling on the bee’s bristles and pleading with it. ‘Don’t land here! The Insect Princess said we mustn’t land in Grimwood Forest. Please, Mrs Bumble, just a little further.’
‘Look, the other bees are flying on,’ Monkey Man added. He too feared the Insect Princess’ warning about the dangers of Grimwood Forest.
‘Please, please, please don’t stop here. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!’
But their pleas were in vain for the weary bee continued her slow descent. By the weak flapping of her wings Isa-Ines and Monkey Man knew she was just too tired to keep up with the others.
‘Perhaps I shouldn’t have jumped on with you’, Monkey Man reasoned as they hopped off Mrs Bumble’s back.
Isa Ines stroked the exhausted bee and tried to reassure her little brother that it was not his fault.
‘The Insect Princess warned us that it could happen, remember. She said that she wished she could have sent us with stronger bees but only the old ones know the way to Pokolo-Tubbalee.’
‘So what do we do now? We could just follow the path and keep going.’
‘The castle didn’t seem to be too far from here, but I think we could get lost if we tried walking in the dark. I can barely see you even now, and the Insect Princess warned us that if we did somehow find ourselves in the forest we must not leave the path. Let’s snuggle up with Mrs Bumble and perhaps in the morning she’ll be strong enough to fly us the rest of the way.’
‘Why?’ Monkey Man asked ‘Why can’t we leave the path? We always sleep right in the forest at home. I love the forest and I’m not afraid. I can . . . ‘
‘Sweetie, listen,’ Isa Ines whispered softly. ‘Can you hear Mrs Bumble? She’s asleep already. We don’t want her to wake up and find that we’ve gone, do we?’
‘No, you’re right’, he huffed.
They curled up next to the quietly buzzing bee and before long Isa Ines was asleep.
Monkey Man lay awake in her arms for a while thinking about the strange dreams he’d had and how the riddle in it had brought them here, so far from home.
The hardest thing on Earth
Can be the hardest thing to give
Unequalled for its worth
Without it can we live?
He repeated the words and liked how they sounded. ‘I’ll find the hardest thing, and then Mama will see that I’m not such a little boy anymore.’
Monkey Man lay awake looking up at the stars when he heard it.
‘Who’s there?’ he whispered ‘What are you laughing at?’
Isa Ines was snoring (though she never admitted it) and Mrs Bumble was still buzzing away quietly in her sleep.
‘Ah, maybe I was asleep and dreamed it,’ he said as he tried to close his eyes.
But there it was again, closer this time.
‘What are you laughing at?’
Monkey Man jumped up to see who was there, but the laughter was fading into the distance.
‘Wait! Don’t go,’ he called as chased the sound deep into the thick of the forest.
* * *
Isa-Ines was still asleep in the chill of dawn as Mrs Bumble wriggle out from under her head. She woke with a thump and wondered at first where she was. So used to waking up in their tree-house to the smell of Mama’s hot cinnamon porridge she was disorientated at first.
‘Monkey Man’s riddle,’ she muttered rubbing the sleep from her eyes. ‘You want to know what the hardest thing is? I’ll tell you what the hardest thing is: it’s this road we’re sleeping on’. She rolled slowly over looking for her little brother.
‘Monkey Man! Where are you?’
She struggled to her feet and chased after Mrs Bumble.
‘Have you seen him?’ she cried desperately but Mrs Bumble was already in the air, bouncing off to catch up with the rest of the hive.
She paced madly up and down, too afraid to step off the path and into the forrest.
‘I promised I wouldn’t go into the forest’ she repeated, over and over. ‘But I also promised I would keep Monkey Man safe, I promised Mama I would look after him! What should I do? What should I do?’
Isa-Ines knew what she must do, and soon she too was swallowed by the silent darkness of Grimwood Forest.
Isa-Ines cut a winding path through the thick trees. This forest was black as midnight and the floor covered in sharp rocks and thorny vines that tangled round her ankles.
After some time she paused to catch her breath.
‘Monkey Man wouldn’t have stopped’ she told herself, ‘But look at my feet. How can I go on? What would he do now?’
She looked up hoping for some inspiration.
‘That’s it!’ she cried.
The rough bark of the tree would scratch her feet but it would be a lot better than continuing to scramble over the rocks. She climbed swiftly up the tree and onto the next and the next.
Soon she was making such quick progress that she had forgotten any pain at all. She could almost imagine that they were playing hide and seek in their own forest in the valley. Almost.
And then she heard the sound of laughter. She stopped still. Yes, definitely laughter. And she could sense that her brother was not far off now. She crept carefully along the branches and came to a clearing. Though it was still daylight there was a gloomy feeling that hung about and made the clearing seem unnaturally dark.
She peered through the leaves and saw her brother asleep on a high wooden platform while a strange assortment of creatures danced about on the ground, shrieking and laughing. Isa Ines watched them, horrified.
What could she do? There was so many of them, more than the stars, it seemed.
Would they notice if there was just one more in the group. She dropped silently down from the tree and tried to imitate their dance.
One, two, three, jerk. One, two, three, jerk.
They seemed to be moving as if they were being jiggled about by an invisible puppet master. Isa-Ines danced her way through the crowd towards the platform. She had no idea how she would get her sleeping brother away without anyone noticing, but she had to try.
She reached out her hand to climb the platform and as she did she heard a screech. ‘EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!’ She covered her ears and turned to see what was making the sound. Just as she did the crowd of dancing creatures froze then dropped to the ground. As they dropped it seemed a spell was broken and they were transformed back into ordinary creatures of the forest. Mice, rabbits, frogs and badgers scattered leaving Isa-Ines and Monkey Man alone in the clearing.
She looked around to see what was making this sound that pierced her eardrums. Then, just as suddenly as it began the sound stopped.
In the eerie silence Isa Ines scrambled to the top of the platform. Suddenly – whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop – a giant shadow swept up and landed on the platform beside the sleeping figure of Monkey Man.
She watched in horror as the beast shuffle towards her little brother.
‘Get away from him!’
Isa felt a surge of power rush through her body. She fairly flew up the ladder and dove between her brother and the hairy beast. The beasts rank smell washed over her. Is this why the Monkey Man was laying unconscious? Had the smell overpowered him? Isa Ines was determined that it would not get the better of her.
Her fists rained down on it and her every kick found its mark. So frenzied was she that she couldn’t even hear the beast’s yelps of pain.
‘Yeip! Yeip! Yeip! Yeip!’ he wailed as he cowered by the edge of the platform. He was about to fall when Isa-Ines felt a gentle hand on her arm.
‘Stop,’ Monkey Man’s voice was calm but commanding.
‘While I slept I dreamed again. The words told to me this time were ‘when everything is not right, it is better to love than to fight’.’
Now Isa Ines could hear the beast’s sobbing ‘why did you hurt me? I was only trying to be friends.