Monkey + banana = recipe for delicious cake…or delicious comedy?
In this first installment of a new series, the answer comes in two courses. Balancing cooking and banana-eating, bipedal primate Mr. Monkey clumsily bakes his entry for the upcoming cake show. But the route to the show contains many obstacles—and some are hungry for Mr. Monkey’s precious prizewinner-to-be. Pratfall after pratfall, readers will laugh and wonder if the cake will make it to the competition in one piece. The simultaneously published companion title, Mr. Monkey Visits a School, follows the same vaudeville formula: Mr. Monkey masters a new juggling trick and shares it at a school but only after lengthy, treacherous travels. In both stories, the narrator interacts with Mr. Monkey and provides running commentary of his antics. Characters’ speech is smartly confined only to interjections—“ooh,” “oops,” “eek,” “yum,” etc.—that play off the narrator’s matter-of-fact delivery with expert comedic timing. Though without chapters to separate parts of the story, the text’s economy of language (fewer than 90 vocabulary words and their variants) and repetition provide ample support for emergent readers. The slapstick humor is driven by Mack’s bold and colorful cartoon illustrations. The humans in Mr. Monkey’s neighborhood are diverse in skin tone. The cast also notably includes a tattooed, bearded bicyclist.
Encore, encore for kid lit’s ap-peel-ing new primate. (Early reader. 4-8)