Tuesday, March 6, 2018

EARLY CHAPTER BOOK: Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick & David Serlin


Who is Baby Monkey?

He is a baby.

He is a monkey.

He has a job.

He is Baby Monkey, Private Eye!

Lost jewels?

Missing pizza?

Stolen spaceship?

Baby Monkey can help...

if he can put on his pants!

Baby Monkey's adventures come to life in a blend of picture book, beginning reader, and graphic novel.


Brian Selznick's done it again.  But this time, he's revolutionized the early chapter book genre.  While the book has 192 pages making it seem like a full length chapter book.  The text is actually pretty sparse.  This makes the illustrations the star of the show, which is awesome when the illustrator is as fabulous as Selznick.  Our main character here is a baby monkey who solves crimes.  In each of the five chapters in the book, Baby Monkey solves a crime. He gathers clues, he takes notes, and sets out to catch the culprit, but first he has to put on his pants.  Unfortunately, Baby Monkey struggles to figure out how to put on his pants creating a running gag throughout the story.  The pattern set in the first three chapters makes the changes in chapters four and five stand out all the more.  And the detailed black and white illustrations work perfectly to highlight Baby Monkey's office and exploits with just enough splashes of red to catch the eye.  In addition to all this though is the changes Selznick makes in Baby Monkey's office for each new case.  The art on the walls and the bust on the desk change to fit the subject of the case (opera, circus, space, etc.).  Thankfully, Selznick has a key at the end of the book documenting all the changes and where they came from.  Interestingly there is also an index and a bibliography (documenting the books Baby Monkey is reading in each office scene)--I also suspect that these books are all made up.  All in all Selznick and Serlin have created an adorable book that young readers who want a larger book are bound to enjoy both carrying around and reading.

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