Walter Minkel (aka the Monkey) Hi, folks. I’m Walter Minkel; I’ve been a librarian for a little over 25 years (note the trademark baby-boomer mustache with the big gray streak), doing most of the things one does in a public library.

For a long time I was the supervisor – and primary programmer – at the Early Childhood Center of The New York Public Library, where I worked hard to charm babies, toddlers, nannies, and parents. But I’ve also worked for School Library Journal, Multnomah County Library (Portland, OR), and Berkeley (CA) Public Library. I also review books for SLJ.

Now I’m living in Austin, TX, working as an assistant manager at the North Village Branch of the Austin Public Library.

I’ve been a puppeteer, a storyteller, a Web site designer, and a ukulele player and singer for kids. I’ve written a couple of books and many articles.

Why “the Monkey”? I’ve always thought of the monkey as my mascot, getting into everything, making a mess, but occasionally running off with a wild inspiration.


9 Responses to “Who’s the Monkey?”

  1. Carl In Charlotte Says:

    You’re not the only librarian with the only a baby-boomer moustache with a gray streak! Please check out our blog at

  2. Carl In Charlotte Says:

    Hey Walter,
    I enjoy your blog a lot! I was really taken with your post of 10-25 (about boys and reading)and especially the sentence that asked why Eyewitness Sharks isn’t included on reading lists. That inspired me to include a couple of Eyewitness books about WWI and WWII in our latest post (which won’t come out until tomorrow) Take a look! We try to include a lot of nonfiction in our recommendations. And, no, we didn’t get enough responses to get me in a dress. Everyone’s probably so busy with school that they don’t have much time left.

  3. Andrea V. Says:

    Hello, Walter! Laura L. from QBPL told me about your blog. I love how it focuses on issues of our day-to-day work, and I am so excited to find your ukelele advice! I have been learning to play and tried it in a program for the first time on Halloween. We sang “Great Green Globs of Greasy Grimey Gopher Guts” and “Spider on the Floor.” Good times. Can’t wait to try out the other songs you recommend. Thank you for your most excellent blog.

    Andrea V.
    Brooklyn Public Library

  4. Carl In Charlotte Says:

    Hey Walter,

    Are you the same Walter Minkel who wrote How to Do the 3 Bears with 2 Hands? That’s one of my favorite puppetry books! We use it all the time and I just gave a copy to a patron today!

  5. the Monkey Says:

    Yes. I wrote it because I didn’t see a book that contained tips for performing in, or performing elsewhere but representing, a library. –W

  6. Rosemary M. Says:

    Hi Walter,

    I was wondering if you had finally moved out to Austin. I love the Monkey Speaks blog! I just finished a wild and noisy toddler program at Riverdale Branch (in the Bronx). I wish you were here to charm the toddlers and nannies!

    All the best

  7. the Monkey Says:

    Hey, Rosemary! Good to hear from you, W

  8. Todd Says:


    fun site…….and I love that you have a page set aside for the ukulele

    happy strumming,

    ukulele evangelist

  9. Fuse #8 Says:

    Howdy Walter,

    I’ve been meaning to send you an email but I doubt your old NYPL account is still in existence. How could I get ahold of you?

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