Another odd couple makes its foray into beginning-reader territory with three stories about Teeny the monkey’s efforts to realize her artistic potential while best friend Tugg the gorilla cheers her on.
When Teeny “hears the jungle birds sing,” she wishes to make beautiful music. Denise’s accompanying watercolor falls short of depicting a forlorn monkey, but text asserts, “Teeny looked so sad that Tugg decided he would help her get her wish.” He finds a flutelike stick and places it in Teeny’s path. She discovers it and practices, and ultimately her music inspires other jungle animals to take music lessons. Later attempts at painting and poetry aren’t as immediately successful, which provides a certain distinguishing element to the book. The painting she produces is an abstract portrait of Violet the warthog, which no one initially appreciates. Animal friends laud her laborious effort to write four simple lines of poetry, and Tugg says, “you are on your way to becoming a good writer,” a just-right assessment of earnest, though perhaps not terribly artful, results.
Emergent readers will identify with Teeny as someone learning new skills, and her can-do attitude, emboldened by a supportive community, is a great model for attaining success. (Early reader. 6-8)