Playful Monkey takes readers on a guessing game through a world of disparate animals.
Six two-page spreads, lushly painted, find Monkey greeting a variety of creatures. Right-hand pages have an additional flap covering half the page; the identity of each of Monkey's friends is thus partially obscured. His first encounter is with an animal that has a long gray tail, a very long front paw and a pair of eyes peeking out just above it. "Monkey said, 'How are you?' when he met the..." Kangaroo! (with a joey in her pouch). Next comes an elephant, then a crocodile, a snake, a chameleon and finally a bear cub, eating honey and leaning against a tree trunk. The pictures feature some extra animals, such as a blasé frog, some brightly colored tropical birds, a frightened koala, a swarm of bees and a treeful of butterflies. At the end of the day, it's time for bed; Monkey rests against a tree, and under the flap on the right-hand page are all the previously introduced friends wishing him goodnight. Brown's illustrations are beautiful, like nature paintings, and young listeners are bound to enjoy guessing each animal's identity and lifting the flaps. But the text, while minimal, is often uneven. And the inclusion of animals from different habitats all over the world is not only puzzling, but seems like a lost teaching opportunity.
Though pretty and engaging, a miss. (Picture book. 3-6)