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The Brave Monkey Pirate

by Hayes Robert


The Brave Monkey Pirate is about fear, where it comes from, and how we can overcome it.

Modi the Monkey Pirate has a doctor’s appointment. The doctor notifies Modi that he needs to return tomorrow for a shot to protect him from scurvy. Modi does not like needles at all. His father gives Modi his fastest ship, a treasure map that will help at the doctor’s office, and immediately sends him on his way. Modi finds the treasure, a rock that he can squeeze to travel three seconds into the future, and uses it after the shot.

This book is available for free in digital format here.

Read aloud video by Marissa Rivera.

Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion

Hayes Robert’s book The Brave Pirate Monkey raises the question of how we get over our biggest fears. Modi, a brave pirate, sails the wildest of seas and travels on the longest of journeys and has no fear. But when Modi visits the doctor’s office for a checkup and learns that he will need to receive a shot to protect him from scurvy, Modi is afraid because he dislikes needles. Modi tells his father about his visit to the doctor’s and his father gives Modi a map that points to a way to help with the needle. Brave Modi takes the fastest ship through the wildest seas and past the most unspeakable creatures in search of a treasure to protect him from the little needle. This treasure helps Modi get past his fear of needles by taking him into the future.

What is it that causes people’s fears or makes them scared? Could it be a large and sharp object that looks scary? Maybe they have seen it cause pain or horror to someone else, and it makes them afraid. Or could it be the case where there was a previous engagement with the fear before it was a fear and it caused pain and they are scared of it causing the pain again? Do we create our own fears consciously, or does our brain create these fears by itself, unconsciously? The Brave Pirate Monkey allows us to examine the nature of our fears.

Philosophers have pondered how fear has saturated every layer of our world—this paradoxical trait of fear emerges when people are living securely in life. Fear can be seen as undermining our freedoms. Fear is a total mind-killer. Through this discussion, the children will gain a deeper understanding of their fears, where they might come from, and maybe even how to overcome them. The kids will begin to see how to trust in themselves and others and ask questions that could help solve their fears. Taking interest in the subject of fear helps the children to stay focused on the philosophy of asking why we feel fear. Modi eating ice cream after his shot with a smile on his face is a powerful statement on how overcoming fears every day can be worth the pain, resulting in adventure and enjoyment.

Questions for Philosophical Discussion

Before Modi goes to the doctor for a checkup

  1. Do you believe Modi’s mom should have let him known earlier about the checkup? Why or why not?
  2. Have you ever been tricked by your parents to go to the doctor? If yes, why do you think they tricked you?
  3. Is it fair for a parent to trick a child into going to the doctor?
  4. What is another way parents could get their children to go to the doctor without tricking them?
  5. Why would someone have to go to the doctor?

Modi at the doctor for his checkup

  1. Do you think Modi was comfortable at the doctor?
  2. How do you think Modi felt when he had to get the shot?
  3. How would you feel if you had to get a shot?
  4. What is scurvy?
  5. Why is it good to be immune to scurvy?
  6. What other shots might the doctor give you? (Measles, Hepatitis, Polio, flu)
  7. Can there be side effects to these shots?
  8. Do the benefits outweigh the side effects?

Modi admits he does not like shots at all.

  1. Why do you think Modi does not like shots at all?
  2. Do you believe he has a fear of shots?
  3. What is a fear?
  4. Do you have a fear of shots?
  5. Is the shot worth it if it really scares you?
  6. Have you had a bad experience with a shot before?
  7. If yes, did the pain last a long time? And how did you get over it?
  8. Has anyone had a shot that did not hurt?

Modi travels the wildest seas and sneaks by creatures in search of the treasure.

  1. Why do you think Modi is scared of a shot and not the wild sea or the creatures?
  2. Why is Modi fearless when he is adventuring or treasure hunting?
  3. Can the motivation of finding treasure overcome the fear one must face?
  4. Is there a difference between bravery and being fearless?

Modi uses the rock to travel into the future.

  1. Do you think Modi has overcome his fear?
  2. Do you believe Modi should have faced his fears head-on?
  3. What do you think Modi will do next time when if he needs a shot?
  4. How do you think someone can overcome a fear?
  5. Have you ever overcome a fear?
  6. How did you overcome that fear?

Original questions and guidelines for philosophical discussion by Cody Thomas and Arthur Batorowski. Edited June 2020 by The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics.

Find tips for leading a philosophical discussion on our Resources page.

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About the Prindle Institute

As one of the largest collegiate ethics institutes in the country, the Prindle Institute for Ethics’ uniquely robust national outreach mission serves DePauw students, faculty and staff; academics and scholars throughout the United States and in the international community; life-long learners; and the Greencastle community in a variety of ways. In 2019, the Prindle Institute partrnered with Thomas Wartenberg and became the digital home of his Teaching Children Philosophy discussion guides.

Further Resources

Some of the books on this site may contain characterizations or illustrations that are culturally insensitive or inaccurate. We encourage educators to visit the Association for Library Service to Children’s resource guide for talking to children about issues of race and culture in literature. They also have a guide for navigating tough conversations.  PBS Kids’ set of resources for talking to young children about race and racism might also be useful for educators.

Philosophy often deals with big questions like the existence of a higher power or death. Find tips for leading a philosophical discussion on our resources page.

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