Mike the monkey is a born drummer. Literally.
During the opening, a stethoscope is trained on mama monkey’s bulging belly, through which strong, rhythmic sounds are being emitted. From his first months through his early school years, Mike explores his world kinetically, patting, pounding, shaking, discovering the sounds made by the nearest surface or object: “He played with his fingers; / he played with his feet— / a funky little monkey with a / beat, beat, beat.” Patricelli’s pages practically vibrate. Multiple views of Mike are labeled with noises, and the pulsating, rhymed text flows easily—the font growing to suggest increased volume and the “bleed” from the acrylics adding to the sense of motion. The colorful compositions are punctuated periodically by a white double-page spread sporting a quivering typeface with the titular message from family, neighbors and teachers. This contrast provides a recognizable refrain for eager listeners. This monkey’s motivation is not mischief: “Mike tried to be quiet, / he tried to be still, / but the beat of his heart / was stronger than his will.” Particularly poignant is his silence from self-applied tape. When an expensive drum kit catches his eye, he can’t rest until he builds a homemade set, and a musician—and his audience—is born. Front endpapers identify 15 percussion instruments; the closing displays do-it-yourself counterparts.A marvelous model of a family ultimately nurturing the member who marches to his own beat. (Picture book. 2-6)