Book Review: Count the Monkeys

Count the MonkeysCount the Monkeys by Mac Barnett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hooray for Mac Barnett, whose varied styles mean there is surely something among his books to appeal to each child. As a sneaky teacher, I can then get my students to read more broadly by saying, “You loved that book by Barnett? You might like this other [completely unrelated] story he wrote…” This one is more hyper than my beloved Chloe and the Lion, yet marginally more sane. Marginally: we’re still talking a book that incorporates king cobras, beekeepers, and surprisingly few monkeys.

Each page directly advises the reader on interacting with the subjects – move slowly around snakes, zig zig away from alligators, etc. Some of the wildlife advice seems more folklore than science, but having had a spate of students afraid of nature this past year, I appreciate a book which supplies them with a way to exercise control over their environment without explicitly mentioning danger. For the majority of students, however, these pages will just be outright silly – can you turn the page while your eyes are covered?

Kevin Cornell’s bright illustrations (Dear Disney-Hyperion, please include illustration information in your colophons; they are quite interesting to your young readers) have a movement and a weight which go well with Barnett’s text. I found myself strangely fascinated by the variety of lumberjack noses, and it is just that kind of random interest which can make a book loved by a child.

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