Count the Monkeys
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
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Kids will giggle as they count all the animals that have frightened the monkeys off the pages. Full of fun reader interactions and keeps readers guessing until the very last page! Matching Mac Barnett's brilliant wit are Kevin Cornell's luminous illustrations, which will have young readers begging to count the monkeys all over again.
Mac Barnett is ONE man who has written THIRTEEN books, including Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, Mustache!, Chloe and the Lion and the New York Times best-selling, Boston Globe Horn Book Award-winning Extra Yarn. He also writes the Brixton Brothers series of mysteries. Mac lives in the EIGHTH largest city of THIRTY-FIRST state, which is Oakland, California. Visit him a MILLION times at www.macbarnett.com.
Despite having dedicated half his life to drawing monkeys, this is the first time Philadelphia illustrator Kevin Cornell has drawn ones not made of socks. To see other non-sock animals Kevin has drawn, check out The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin, and Mustache! by Mac Barnett. Visit www.kevskinrug.com to explain to him that mustaches are not animals.
Carrying out the titular imperative proves tough, given that, on every spread, monkeys are nowhere to be seen. Luckily, the mounting number of predators that have scared them off can be enumerated, even if their appearances don't always jive with the classic food chain. There's one very vain king cobra on the opening spread, but soon the action devolves to include "6 sweet old beekeepers" and "10 polka-dotted rhinoceroses with bagpipes and bad breath." Cornell (who previously teamed up with Barnett for Mustache!) is an artist in the modern-day Disney animation tradition, effortlessly juggling funny chaos, irreverent characterizations, and visual winks and nudges. Barnett's narrator may be increasingly frustrated ("We're never going to count the monkeys!") but he also has expert comic timing, includes multiple opportunities for audience participation, and riffs on collaborative learning: "Look! 2 mongooses have chased away that cobra! Or is that 2 mongeese? I am pretty sure it is 2 monogooses. Let's vote." This spot-on spoof of counting books is the perfect reward for anyone who's put in a hard day's work with numbers, big or small. Ages 3 6.—PW
Barnett is back with a zany interactive counting book that's sure to tickle youngsters' funny bones. The text starts on the title page with the words: "Hey kids! Time to count the monkeys all you have to do is turn the page ." But on the first page, one king cobra has scared them off. Next, two mongooses frighten off the cobra, and so on, with ever-increasing numbers of wacky animals and people until "10 polka-dotted rhinoceroses with bagpipes and bad breath" are called upon to get rid of 9 lumberjacks and the book runs out of pages, leaving 0 monkeys. Don't despair, because the final page turn reveals a huge number of monkeys filling up the endpapers. Cornell's full-bleed cartoon artwork featuring mongooses wearing numbered racing tops, crocodiles with top hats and canes, and an assortment of lumberjacks in plaid tops sporting a variety of mustaches and beards is a perfect fit for Barnett's chatty, tongue-in-cheek tone. Cornell packs the pages with oversize characters and plenty of color, all on a green backdrop reminiscent of the jungle from the initial endpaper. The story unfolds in an almost cinematic style that will have young listeners impatiently turning the pages. Barnett's Chloe and the Lion (Hyperion, 2012) broke into metafiction, making it more accessible to older readers. This title is more straightforward and will appeal to fans of What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot (Dial, 2012) and other interactive books. Sure to be a hit, even if those elusive monkeys are rather difficult to count when they finally make an appearance. Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT—SLJ
Although counting books may tire out jaded grown-ups, a good one will always get youngsters excitedly running through their numbers. Barnett begins with a call: "Hey, kids! Time to count the monkeys!" But his simians won't show, having been scared off. So who scared them off? Maybe those two mongooses? Or those three crocodiles? Barnett instructs readers to ward off each group of beasts with various techniques. For example, on a page featuring four grizzly bears, the instructions say, "Put your arms above your head! Make a loud roar! Bang together some pots and pans, if you have them." (This isn't a book to read during quiet time.) Besides the chance to make noise, kids will adore Cornell's broadly exaggerated animals, from the toothy monkey grins to the round bottoms of bearded lumberjacks. The whole package has a Saturday-morning-cartoon cheerfulness. And when the monkeys still haven't appeared at the purported end, never fear. The last spread will keep counters content for a good long while. Adult patience advised. - Karen Cruze—Booklist
How does one count the monkeys if there are no monkeys left to count? A philosophical question of the ages (and storytime). The title page drolly advises readers from the start: "It's fun. It's easy. All you have to do is turn the page ." But there are no monkeys! Instead, there is a giant king cobra who has slithered across the entire book and scared all of the monkeys away. The audience is now directed to "[t]urn the page very slowly, very carefully so he doesn't notice us." Are the monkeys on the next page? Nope. But there are two mongooses who have chased away the cobra. Or is it mongeese? Barnett polls the readers, asking their opinion. And so it goes. Three dapper crocodiles frighten the mongooses, four picnic-loving grizzly bears frighten the crocodiles-but will there ever be any monkeys? This kinetic, raucous read-aloud invites kids to hum tunes, roar loudly, close their eyes and politely say "thank you" six times to the sweet old-lady beekeepers who chase away the bees. But alas, the book runs out of pages before those petrified primates ever make an appearance. (Thank goodness for endpapers.) More fun than a barrel of well, you know. (Picture book. 3-6)—Kirkus