Engaging artwork, superb narration and one extra-sparkly page fail to keep this disjointed story about self-esteem afloat.
Using monkeys as metaphors for negative thoughts, Lim tells the story of a little girl who decides to capture the primates in an effort to silence them. Apes with names like Gobbledeegoo and Frankenpoop relentlessly torment the girl by telling her that she’s not good enough, that no one likes her and that things are all her fault. One by one she lures them into a glass cage, but in the end she decides to befriend them and set them free. Objects’ pulsations (according to the instructions, they are meant to look like they are glowing) supposedly reveal interactive elements, but sometimes things that move or produce sound don’t pulse or glow. Animation is mostly slow, bumpy and unremarkable, with the exception of one visually stimulating page that the developers apparently put most of their effort into. At times the story and the illustrations are incongruent; on one page the girl says there are mice inside her head—presumably a reference to the shrunken monkeys—but because this is not made explicit, young readers will likely be left wondering where the mice factor in. The subject matter is relevant and potentially powerful, but this incoherent story doesn’t even come close to plumbing its depths.
Meager monkey business. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)