Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan
Lynn: Monkeys are always popular with kids and we have two really special monkey books today. First up is Anthony Browne’s gorgeous One Gorilla: A Counting Book (Candlewick 2013). This is a counting book, yes, but is also one of those versatile delights that can be used in, well, countless ways. Counting book, science book, animal book, art book – any of these descriptors will work.
This large size book is the perfect canvas for Anthony Browne’s stunning parade of primates. The cover portrait of the handsome gorilla with the Mona Lisa eyes, changes sides to begin the count down. One gorilla, two extremely orange orangutans, 3 chimpanzees – right on through the numbers to ten enchanting lemurs. Then a surprise page turn – one human!
“All primates. All one family. All my family…and yours!”
Browne’s self-portrait and the large two-page spread that follows of a group of humans in a glorious mix of race, age, and ethnicity underscores what may be a surprising fact to children. Humans are primates too – and just as varied as our cousins! Each set of portraits are vividly colored and boldly executed. There is humor and delight in the pictures but there is also much to think about in the depth of expression to be read in each face and set of eyes. Whether you are counting the primates together with a toddler on your lap, setting the stage for a unit of evolution or discussing art technique with high schoolers, this is a book that be counted on!
Cindy: Count the Monkeys (Disney/Hyperion, June 2013) by Marc Barnett doesn’t pub for months, but get this on your book order now or watch for it at your local bookstore on June 25th. Preschool story hours will want to feature this funny counting book and it will make a great lap read aloud book too. It opens with this invitation:
“Hey, kids! Time to count the monkeys! It’s fun. It’s easy. All you have to do is turn the page…and Count the Monkeys!”
“Yikes!” Yikes, is right. The double page spread features 1 crown-wearing King Cobra who has scared away all of the monkeys. Then more instructions:
“Turn the page very slowly, very carefully so he doesn’t notice us.”
2 mongooses, 3 crocodiles, …7 wolves…with instructions for each page turn:
“Don’t look these wolves in the eyes. In fact, cover your eyes while you turn the page.”
Not all of the characters you count are animals, but one thing is certain…you’re going to have a very hard time counting any monkeys!
Pure fun with fabulous, colorful artwork by Kevin Cornell. We raved about his work in The Trouble with Chickens a while back and there is a lot of sly humor lurking in these illustrations. Put this on your gift book list too. It will be well received by all the little monkeys in your life! Lynn reports raves from our youngest focus group member. The two-year old remembered the opening page’s text after a month away from it and was disappointed that Nana didn’t bring it back to read to him again. Next time, Henry…the f&g is yours until the hardcover is available for purchase–promise!
Lynn: We visited Henry last week, a month after our last visit. Right after greeting hugs and kisses, he asked where was the bag with “the special books.” He was quite disappointed to hear that Cindy had Count the Monkeys although the bag had other books to test that got happy multiple readings. He does remember the lines from Count the Monkeys but since we read it at least 30 times in one weekend, that is not surprising. Henry loved following the instructions as we turned each page and even on the zillionth reading, it made us laugh. Two enthusiastic thumbs up from Henry and me.