This title about the Fast and Furry Racers sends anthropomorphic dog Cleopatra Bones and other animal characters racing off to find the fabled Golden Chimpanzee.
While busy, cartoon art and labored, rhyming text signal this to be a cute adventure story, readers may balk at various details. For starters, is the canine protagonist’s name an intentional or unintentional play on the name of the 1973 blaxploitation film Cleopatra Jones, starring Tamara Dobson in the title role? Either scenario seems downright odd, at best. So named, Cleopatra finds a treasure map in a temple, and although nowhere does the text name what sort of temple it is, there are symbols that seem to emulate Egyptian hieroglyphics. She shares the map with other animal characters in a scene at a museum, and they all go off in pursuit of the Golden Chimpanzee. Some may wonder about the underlying ethics of this treasure hunt. In an era of discussion and debate about appropriation, exploitation, and repatriation in the museum field, this lighthearted book runs roughshod over such concerns. The animals’ race brings them to a large stone chimpanzee sculpture hidden in a jungle, which they destroy. “And from the broken body parts pours a waterfall of gold.” The animals divide the gold among themselves; that’s the dubious happily-ever-after conclusion.
A treasure it’s not. (Picture book. 3-6)