SECOND BANANA by Keith Graves


by , illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
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Under the big top, the show must go on, but the relationship between a spotlight-grabbing monkey and the amiable gorilla that assists him is ripe for a change.

“The Amazing Bubbles was the star of the circus. / Oop was not.” The grinning, diminutive monkey is the focus of every act, but huge and helpful Oop always works behind the scenes. She is “the pool filler-upper, tire pumper-upper, music holder-upper, and fuse lighter-upper,” but she longs for her turn to be a star. Bubbles dismisses the idea: “You silly gorilla! Think of us as bananas. Obviously, I am the Top Banana. The Big Banana. Numero Uno Banana. You are Second Banana.” But a mishap leaves Bubbles with a boo-boo, and Oop eagerly comes forward to help. The results are less than optimal. When Oop launches out of the cannon with such power that she bursts through the tent, disaster appears imminent—but “far below, a pair of skinny arms reached up for her.” Readers will relate to the uneven friendship dynamics softened with humor. Graves deftly uses pencil and digital color to illustrate the range of Oop’s emotions as well as the duo’s antics. Happily, Bubbles and Oop remain pals, and their relationship evolves—but there always seems to be the need for a second banana.

Take this off the shelf to share with primary-grade students who are navigating the ever changing landscape of friendship. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-59643-883-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2014


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