STARRED REVIEW
March 2018

Baby monkey’s on the case

By Brian Selznick & David Serlin

If the first spread in this book doesn’t grab the attention of the emerging readers in your life, check their pulse. “WAIT!” the book opens, in a font size so large that the word takes up the entire spread. “Who is Baby Monkey?” the next spread asks. Baby Monkey (to describe him as endearing is an understatement) has a job as a detective, and in five immensely entertaining chapters, we observe him solve five cases.

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BookPage Children's Top Pick, March 2018

If the first spread in this book doesn’t grab the attention of the emerging readers in your life, check their pulse. “WAIT!” the book opens, in a font size so large that the word takes up the entire spread. “Who is Baby Monkey?” the next spread asks. Baby Monkey (to describe him as endearing is an understatement) has a job as a detective, and in five immensely entertaining chapters, we observe him solve five cases. He finds a diva’s missing jewels, a chef’s stolen pizza, a clown’s nose and an astronaut’s spaceship. (The last mystery is extra special.) Each time Baby Monkey decides to help, he looks for clues, writes notes, has a snack and puts on his pants (or tries to).

Given that he’s a stand-in for a bumbling yet earnest toddler, there’s much physical humor in seeing Baby Monkey play grown-up at his massive desk or attempt to hold a magnifying glass that’s larger than he is—antics Brian Selznick illustrates in exquisite black-and-white pencil drawings. (Throughout the book, rare moments of the color red are used to great effect.)

Repeated elements in each chapter, along with oversize type, expertly guide those just learning to read. There are also visual clues: At the beginning of each chapter, items and framed pictures in the office change, providing hints as to whom the next client will be. That fifth client is his mother, looking for her baby. Good timing on her part, as Baby Monkey is ready for bed and weary from a hard day at work. Even at nearly 200 pages, you’ll be sad to see this one-of-a-kind beginning reader end. Fingers crossed for sequels.

 

Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Get the Book

Baby Monkey, Private Eye

Baby Monkey, Private Eye

By Brian Selznick & David Serlin
Scholastic
ISBN 9781338180619

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