Thursday 26 July 2012

208. Two Little Monkeys by Mem Fox illustrated by Jill Barton

Two Little Monkeys by Mem Fox illustrated by Jill Barton
Published July 2012 Penguin (Viking)

From the publisher:
Two little monkeys are hiding in a tree - two little monkeys named Cheeky and Chee.

Swing on in if you'd like to see just why they're hiding in that big old tree.

I was lucky enough to hear Mem speak at the CBC conference in May.  She is always an interesting speaker, and one who is not afraid of speaking her mind, and I love that about her.  One of the thing s she hears a lot, and I hear also, is that it can’t be that hard to write a picture book like Where’s The Green Sheep, there’s not even that many words in it!!??!!  This book has a similar feel to the Green Sheep.  It’s true, this is a simple story, with a lot of repetitive text.  What amazes me is that people can’t see the skill involved in telling a great story with so few words. 

There are some essential elements in any good story, I am not sure that these are the ‘official’ must have elements, but they are the ones I will use to make my point. They are, the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution.  So is it possible for a picture book to contain these components?  Yes it is, so let's look at this book.

Characters: the lovable Cheeky and Chee
Setting: an African savannah
Plot: two monkeys enjoying themselves, doing what monkeys do, when they find themselves face to face with a predator.  Will they escape?
Conflict: The imminent danger the two monkeys find themselves in, will the scary beast get the better of them?
Resolution:  Using their nimble monkey skills, Cheeky and Chee find their way to safety.

I love books in rhyme, they are great to read aloud, but there also has to be rhythm, which not all rhyming books seem to get right.  This book has both.  There is a point In the story where we finally see what the monkeys are hiding from, and the rhyme and rhythm stop, for the words “Ooooooh Scary!” , and then on the next page it begins again.  My advice, humble as it may be, is to take the time to read the book to yourself before reading it out loud, this will help to get the rhythm and flow of the story when you later read it to an audience.

This book is fun, and full of suspense and drama, children will love the rhyme and will be on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if Cheeky and Chee make it to safety.

Who will like this book: Boys and girls age 3+
Read it if you like: Where Is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox

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