Coffelt masterfully weaves a lesson in words around a familiar "Little Red Hen" moral, making this one entertaining teaching tool.
Monkey needs help transporting his bananas home so he can make banana cream pie. But Ant is a new aunt anxious to see her niece, Bee has too much to do, with a honey shipment due, and Bear must wash the fir sap off his fur. Gnu, Ewe, Horse and Deer also find more pressing matters, and each leaves through the leaves without helping. Just when Monkey is about to do it all himself, Ant comes back to pitch in. They make the pies and share the tasty results. Predictably, the other animals want some pie, too, but Monkey only provides after they all help in the cleaning up. The five homonym pairs and 29 homophone combinations are bolded within the text, making them easy to spot. Coffelt keeps her textured oil pastel illustrations simple, so as not to detract from the wordplay, but what they may lack in detail they more than make up in rich, vibrant color and visual humor. Aunt Ant directs her little army from underneath a purple foreman's cap. Backmatter defines homophones and homonyms and addresses the regional pronunciations that can affect whether or not two words sound the same.
Fun on many levels, this has a sure spot in classrooms and storytimes as fable, grammar lesson and wordplay all rolled into one. (Picture book. 4-8)