MANNERS ARE NOT FOR MONKEYS

The twist at the end is both humorous and instructional; adults will hope children see and heed its message.

The monkey cage’s change of venue—to a spot near the picnic area—causes its inhabitants to learn human manners, but some just can’t stand for that.

The young monkeys are fascinated by the children outside their cage. And they quickly pick up on the ways the kids and parents interact. It’s not long before the monkeys are chewing with their mouths closed, taking turns, playing quietly, and tidying up. This drives their exasperated mother bananas: “TRY TO BEHAVE LIKE MONKEYS!” But each time they try to make her happy, they are deprived of watching the children’s antics; the fascinated kids either stop to watch the monkeys or the monkeys lose their concentration. But one day, a wild group of children visits the zoo. They are mystified by the unmonkeylike behavior of the monkeys and set out to show them what to do. When the zookeeper sees this, she understands she’s made a terrible mistake. Readers will expect her to move the monkey cage back to its original location, but her solution will have parents nodding in understanding and spark children’s laughter. Huyck’s digitally colored pencil illustrations play up the humor of the monkeys’ well-mannered behavior, and small details add to the fun—look for the monkey with a banana-peel tie and an age-old joke. The families are nicely diverse, and the zookeeper is a middle-aged white woman with a gray ponytail.

The twist at the end is both humorous and instructional; adults will hope children see and heed its message. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77138-051-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

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