Posts tagged ‘Animals’

Baby Monkey, Private Eye

Baby Monkey Private Eye.jpgTitle: Baby Monkey, Private Eye
Authors: Brian Selznick and David Serlin
Illustrator: Brian Selznick
ISBN: 9781338180619
Pages: 191 pages
Publisher/Date: Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., c2018.

Baby Monkey someone has stolen my […]!
Baby Monkey can help!
Baby Monkey looks for clues.
Baby Monkey writes notes.
Baby Monkey eats a snack.
Baby Monkey puts on his pants.
Now Baby Monkey is ready!
Baby Monkey solves the case! […]
Hooray for Baby Monkey!

Each of the first three chapters of this extended easy reader follow the same format as outlined above. The only clue that readers receive as to the identity of the thief are the footprints that Baby Monkey discovers and follows. Just as you think you’ve figured out the routine, the repetitive nature of the chapters diverges, as in the fourth chapter Baby Monkey is tired and hilariously needs some prodding to solve that case. The fifth chapter divulges even further, making readers second guess the entire premise of the story by the last scene, where observant readers will see the inspiration for all those criminals.

I’m unclear what aspects debut author Serlin (Selznick’s partner) and Selznick contributed to the story. Selznick’s pencil illustrations however are instantly recognizable and as detailed as to be expected, with Baby Monkey’s office accessories changing with every case and the book he is reading lending a hint to the upcoming theft. The snack in each chapter changes and is contained in a clearly labeled ziplock bag, instantly recognizable to children as something they might have packed for their snack. Monkey’s struggle to get into his pants is the visual gags that appeal to children, but I do wish one of this resulting misadventures had yielded both legs in one pant leg. Missed opportunity Selznick, in my opinion. Quite often found with his tongue sticking out of his mouth in concentration, Baby Monkey is adorable in every way possible, with ears sticking out of his head that are almost as big as his eyes (Mickey Mouse comparisons are inevitable) and cowlick/Mohawk fur on his head that reminds me of a troll doll. The over-sized magnifying glass that he carries around clinches it. It might be a big world, and Baby Monkey might be little, but he’s found his place in it.

I echo Betsy Bird‘s sentiments and exasperation about where the heck we’re supposed to put this cross over, combo format. I strongly believe it is best suited for easy or early reader collections, or better yet simple chapter books if your library has that category. The repetitive narration, simple word use, and large bold font is meant for those beginning or struggling readers, and advanced readers typically looking in the fiction area are well above this level. They still might find enjoyment, but it’s not really meant for them. It’s meant for reading aloud and sharing with families of small children, especially those of mixed ages. A coworker with three little ones ranging in ages from I think 3-7 years old said her whole brood of boys enjoyed it. That is where Selznick has hit the sweet spot, geared for a whole new and younger fan base then his previous works.



Accident.jpgTitle: Accident!
Author/Illustrator: Andrea Tsurumi
ISBN: 9780544944800
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, c2017.

“Oh No!” Lola cried. “I’ve ruined everything!”
“I’ll hide in the library! They have books and bathrooms.”
“And I’ll stay there till I’m a grownup.”
So Lola ran away from her mess and right into everyone else’s.

From red punch spilled on a white sofa, to a broken swing, a snipped hose line and a collapsed cake, the assorted animals in this town would give Alexander a run for his money in the horrible terrible day category. The illustrations remind me of Richard Scarry’s world or Family Circus cartoons, with lots of action and tiny vignettes completely filling the page. If you’re using this as a story time selection, I would recommend making it available for kids and parents to peruse or pointing out some of the more specific actions. The surprised puffer fish is an ingenious choice, seemingly maneuvering around like the excitable fish in Seuss’s Cat in the Hat, bounding through the streets on either back fin or propelling himself with his side fins and his expressions are not to be missed as he bounces down the stairs head(?) first. Vocabulary building opportunity exists as Lola and others call the incidents catastrophe, disaster, mayhem, calamity, and fiasco. After a red bird whose been following the action since the beginning sets Lola right in that they were all accidents that they can make better, the rest of the anxious animals pitch in to correct the problems. Some we saw causes and solutions (a narwhal who popped a sloth’s balloon is shown with the sloth who now has a pinwheel) while others are more open ended (two flamingos replacing a door certainly has a story behind it). Lola’s return shows that everyone can have an accident, and it’s how you react that is important. A humorous, much needed lesson in owning up and helping out.


Plume.jpgTitle: Plume
Author/Illustrator: Isabelle Simler
ISBN: 9780802854926
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c2017.

Is this a catalog? Is this a story? It’s difficult to categorize what amounts to beautiful digitally rendered images of over a dozen different birds and one cat. The double page spreads showcase the entire bird on the right, and then focus on the variety of feathers that make up each bird. As the pages turn, the number of feathers increase. In each picture, a piece of cat is visible, sometimes just a tip of ear or tail or paw is visible and other times interacting more fully with the bird, with both bird and cat being observed by it’s counterpart. All the feathers are wispy and imperfect in shape and symmetry, appearing to be falling from the sky and waiting to be picked up and stroked by an inquisitive collector. The birds also have textures that convey the textures and arrangement of the feathers if they were still on the animal. The end papers feature feathers not just from the featured fowl, but also from additional species of birds and, in a sly nod, fur from the cat. I do think the artist missed an opportunity to showcase all of the feathers together on the final page, but it’s a tiny quibble. Pair this with Lois Ehlert’s Feathers for Lunch or Aviary Wonders Inc Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth for a feather focused story time.

The Fast and the Furriest

I originally intended to post these in October, but the end of the year got away from me. Since I can’t draw, in honor of Inktober 2017 I searched out a graphic novel to fit each daily theme presented. Now that October is over, I finally have a chance to catch up on my blogging. Here’s my submission for the theme from October 1st: Swift.

Fast and the Furriest.jpgTitle: The Fast and the Furriest
Series: March Grand Prix
Author/Illustrator: Kean Soo
ISBN: 9781623701710
Pages: 137 pages
Publisher/Date: Capstone Young Readers, a Capstone Imprint, c2015.

In a Zootopia meets Cars idea mash-up, three issues assemble this volume of comics about a bunny family supporting their racecar driver relative. March has his parents and three sisters, mechanic May, baker April, and baby June. Assisted by “Uncle Hammond” (although his actions place him of a similar age as March), March races in two races, one on a track and one in a desert, and attempts to make a delivery for April when her bakery opens. Bright possibly digitally colored illustrations could draw comparisons to Raina Telgemeier. The different types of species represented is occasionally the punch line, such as when opponent Lyca Fox (get it?) calls her canine pit crew dogs (which they are). All’s well that ends well, as each of the three short stories end with a deus ex machina type resolution. His car is fixed and his father’s advice proves valuable, the eaten tarts are forgiven, and the whole racetrack celebrates March’s second place finish. While encouraging a suspension of belief, they also promote ideals like helping others, taking responsibility for your actions, and that you don’t always have to win to have fun. A fast read for young speed demons.

The Wolf the Duck and the Mouse

Each month for a previous job, I wrote a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ve expanded that idea to the blog in a feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Wolf the Duck and the Mouse.jpgTitle: The Wolf The Duck and the Mouse
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
ISBN: 9780763677541
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2017.

Jon Klassen’s signature style of mixed-media illustrations carry the story of a mouse and a duck who have been swallowed whole by a wolf. Life on the inside isn’t as bad as it may seem because as the duck reveals to the mouse: “When I was outside, I was afraid every day wolves would swallow me up. In here, that’s no worry.” Their unconventional life (after-life?) in the wolf’s stomach is threatened by a hunter, who is intent on killing the wolf. The ending (I haven’t seen it spoiled yet, so I won’t be the first to ruin the surprise) provides a fable like rationale behind the wolf’s howling habits. The humor comes from the details and the deadpan, inexpressive portrayals of all the characters, with faces that almost never change. More mind-bending humor that we’ve come to expect from this prolific pair.

How to Be an Elephant

How to Be an Elephant.jpgTitle: How to Be an Elephant: Growing up in the African Wild
Author/Illustrator: Katherine Roy
ISBN: 9781626721784
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: David Macaulay Studio, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, a divising of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership, c2017.

“With flapping ears and whiffling trunks, the herd quickly spreads the new. After 22 months of growing,  a new baby is on her way. From walking and rumbling to drinking and dining, nothing will come easy for this giant-to-be. But like her mother before her, she’ll have to learn…”

Katherine Roy’s watercolors portraying the life of an elephant start at the very beginning, showcasing an elephant calf still in utero on the title page in purple and gray hues. The baby springs onto the scene and is greeted by a half dozen trunks, emphasizing the community and emphasis on family that a herd maintains. The thick brush strokes transition to lighter golds portraying the sand-swept savanna. The diagrams included are informative and supplement the text, providing information on the elephant’s development, habits, and survival methods. Bite sized facts allow for easy digestion by readers who aren’t distracted by the fully engaging pictures.

nonfiction mondayThis review is posted in honor of Nonfiction Monday. Take a look at what everyone else is reading in nonfiction this week.

Cockatoo, Too and Toucans, Too

Cockatoo Too.jpgTitle: Cockatoo, Too
Author/Illustrator: Bethanie Deeney Murguia
ISBN: 9781499801026
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Little Bee Books, an imprint of Bonnier Publishing Group, c2016.




Toucans Too.jpg





Title: Toucans, Too
Author/Illustrator: Bethanie Deeney Murguia
ISBN: 9781499804218
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Little Bee Books, an imprint of Bonnier Publishing, c2017.

A pair or two of two cockatoos, two toucans, and in the end of the second book two gnus dance to their own tune of homophone words and phrases. Tutus, cans of stew, and canoes play a role in this wonderful wordplay, and cuckoos and owls (“WHO?”) make an appearance. The author’s bio mentions a fascination with Seuss at a young age, and that inspiration is evident in the fun. While the story isn’t action packed and younger children might be slightly confused, elementary aged children learning rhymes and word sounds might enjoy hearing it read aloud, if only for the silliness. I’m no art expert, but I’m pretty sure the illustrations are water color and ink. They portray a vibrant forest background, and overlaying the words on a generous white footer allows for easy visibility and readability. Tata you two toucans and cockatoos, until hopefully a third showing.

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