Friday, March 16, 2012

Monkey's Friends by Ruth Brown

Author/illustrator Ruth Brown presents a simple guessing game in this jungle story. In brisk rhymes, Monkey greets each of his friends, “Monkey said, ‘Give me a smile!’ when he saw the…crocodile.” The art is cleverly made to conceal the various animals, which are revealed when the reader turns a half-page flap. The half-page blends onto both sides of the page, so the reader sees one scene, showing Monkey and his greeting and a subtle clue, then turns the half page to change the picture to one featuring the animal. 

The art seems to encompass a variety of styles – the animals are delicately painted, but the jungle setting looks like a print with splatter paint, giving the leaves a realistic veined look. Some of the pictures are almost frighteningly realistic, in comparison to Monkey’s cheerful greeting, like the crocodile’s savage lunge and the frantically leaping frog, but most of them look good-humored without being too anthropomorphized. Ruth Brown’s art is colorful and the fascinating variety of textures and details make this a fun book for close-up viewing, as well as a good read-aloud.

Verdict: This is a great book for an interactive storytime - the guessing game is difficult enough to keep preschoolers absorbed, with the delicate hints in the art and rhymes just waiting to be finished, but the text is simple enough for toddlers to absorb. Recommended.
ISBN: 9781610670456; Published March 2012 by Kane Miller; Review copy provided by publisher; Purchased for the library

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