The "Five Little Monkeys" is an English language folk tune and fingerplay. It is commonly occurring by a sequence of gestures that mimic the words of the song. Every succeeding verse sequentially counts down from the beginning number.
Eileen Christelow has written a series of books titled "Five Little Monkeys" She recognizes that she did not write the actual lyrics, she heard it from her daughter.
There is no familiar beginning of the song, due to it being a contemporary nursery rhyme. But, the song has the same lyrics and tune to the 1st verse of the folk song "Shortnin' Bread."
Eileen Christelow was born on April 22, 1943, is an American writer and illustrator of children's books, both fiction and non-fiction. She is well-known for her series about the Five Little Monkeys, beginning with her retelling of the typical nursery rhyme "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed." Another remarkable book includes stories set in her home state of Vermont; stories featuring Emma the Desperate Dog, influenced by Christelow's dog Emma (now passed away); and Vote!, a non-fiction work about the voting procedure. As an author, she has been mostly collected by libraries worldwide.
Eileen Christelow was born and raised in Washington, DC to Allan Christelow, a historian and business executive, and Dorothy Christelow, an economist. She grew up in Washington, DC and New Canaan, Connecticut. Her father's work with the Standard Vacuum Oil Company took the family to Japan for 1 year, when she was 14 years old, and she spent her first year of high school at the American School in Japan, in Tokyo. Christelow finished her high school education at Abbot Academy, and got a degree in 1965 from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied architecture and learned the basic principles of design which would inform her later job in photography, graphic design, and illustration.
Christelow met her husband, Ahren Ahrenholz, while residing in his native Philadelphia, and they married in 1965. She spent the next 6 years working as a freelance photographer, photographing architecture, inner-city street life, schools, and the political demonstrations of the 1960s. Her pictures were produced in magazines and textbooks.
In 1971 the couple moved to Cornwall, England for 1 year, while Ahrenholz trained to potter Michael Cardew. Their daughter, Heather, was born and raised in Cornwall in March 1972.
In 1972 the family went back to the United States, settling in Kensington, California, where Ahrenholz opened Colusa Pottery. In 1981 they moved back east, to Vermont, where Christelow had spent childhood vacations on her grandparents’ farm. They currently reside in East Dummerston, Vermont, in a home designed and built by Christelow's husband.
Eileen Christelow labored as a freelance photographer and graphic designer before opting to try her hand at writing and illustrating children's picture books. In between graphic design works, and while her young daughter, Heather, was at day care, Christelow worked on book ideas, making dummies that she sent out to publisher after publisher. A course at the University of California’s extension program, “Writing for Children,” educated by former Harper & Row editor Betty Bacon, gave the feedback that Christelow needed to polish 2 of her book ideas into accomplished dummies.
Bacon also produced an invaluable contact, recommending that Christelow show her books to Jim Giblin, at Clarion Books. She did so in August 1981, and Giblin purchased both books, Henry and the Red Stripes, which was produced in 1982, and Mr. Murphy’s Marvelous Invention, published in 1983. More than thirty books followed, with Giblin is pursuing as Christelow's editor until his demise in 2016.
In addition to the Five Little Monkey series, Christelow's books include stories influenced by her dog, Emma, who passed away in 2013 but lives on in Letters from a Desperate Dog and The Desperate Dog Writes Again. Other stories, which include The Five-Dog Night and The Great Pig Escape, were inspired by true stories, and highlight the culture and landscape of her native state of Vermont. Non-fiction titles include What Do Authors Do?, What Do Illustrators Do?, and Vote!
Some of the Monkey books have been interpreted into Spanish (produced in bilingual English/Spanish editions) and Chinese.
The Robbery at the Diamond Dog Diner was adapted for the PBS children's series Reading Rainbow in 1988, where it was portrayed by actor Peter Falk.
Fingerplay, usually seen in early childhood, is hand action or movement combined with singing or spoken-words to captivate the child's interest. According to Erikson, many children develop autonomy and "want to learn and impersonate the activities and behavior of others". As stated by Wong's Essentials of Pediatric Nursing, "gestures introduce speech and in this way, a child communicates satisfactorily". For all ages, children become active listeners and can manage their eyes, body, and attention on the teacher.
A fingerplay is a nursery rhyme for children that utilizes hand movements synchronized with words to captivate and sustain children's interest. Fingerplays can be in the form of tunes or chants. Classic samples would be the "Itsy Bitsy Spider", "Round and round the garden", or "This Little Piggy". Teachers use fingerplays to launch poetry to children and launch new concepts. They can also assist children to develop such abilities as fine motor coordination and following directions.
Folk song has been maintained and transmitted orally, through print and later through recordings. The term is used to refer to an English conventional song and music composed, or delivered, in a traditional style. English folk music has produced to some significant musical genres, including sea shanties, jigs, hornpipes and dance song, such as that used for Morris dancing. It can be seen as having definite regional and local variations in content and style, specifically in areas more removed from the cultural and political centers of the English state, as in Northumbria, or the West Country. It has also corresponded with other musical traditions, specifically typical and rock music, affecting musical styles and producing musical fusions, such as British folk-rock, folk punk, and folk metal. There remains a flourishing sub-culture of English folk song, which pursues to influence other genres and occasionally gains mainstream attention.