A chimp named Ham was the first simian in space, and when he returned to earth, he went to live at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. But what if he'd capitalized on his fame by starting a business-a Monkey Business, if you will? This quirky story, told by ``Mr. Lunch'' team Seibold and Walsh, imagines Ham's alter ego, Space Monkey. Soon after splashdown, Space Monkey starts using a supercomputer to manufacture a geometrical product that resembles a cubist cupcake (``Although he wasn't sure what it was, it turned out to be tremendously popular''). It's up to an antennaed pink bug named Penelope to discover a purpose for the angular objects-which, activated by a TV remote control, open into tiny apartments. The amusing, if convoluted, plot takes second place to the deftly manipulated computer-generated imagery. The asymmetrical, clean-edged images-in a peculiar techno-palette of olive-brown, brassy yellow, rust-orange, light blue and pink-are a far cry from conventional pencil drawings. Pictograms and letters decorate the cityscapes, lending a futuristic feel. A jazzy linking of computers, literacy and even America's space program. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)
- Sue Reichard
This is a uniquely written tale set in the Caribbean. Monkey Business extols the virtue of bananas, how they are grown and harvested. Told through the eyes of the monkeys, who work the banana fields, the story explains the workers unions, and how and why they are formed and the politics behind the scene. It conveys a different approach to teach the history and culture of the West Indian Islands.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-The creators of that canine bird-chaser Mr. Lunch introduce another amazing animal. Having achieved fame as an ``early astronaut,'' Space Monkey returns to Earth to make his mark as an entrepreneur. However, his cherished millionth product is lost in transit. Penelope the bug discovers the ``lost thing'' and, believing it to be a house, settles in. Eventually, the product is returned. With some effort and communication, a happy ending is enjoyed by all. Once again, Seibold's innovative, computer-generated visuals fill the pages with energetic images. The muted colors and stylized cartoon design create a distinct 1950s feeling. As in their earlier books, dry, zany humor and social commentary are abundant, resulting in a somewhat adult tone. The plot is filled with twists, turns, and slides, but the effect is not as successful as in Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride (1993) and Mr. Lunch Borrows a Canoe (1994, both Viking). Both story line and humor seem a bit fuzzy, lacking the sharp wit found in the other titles. Although this book will not have wide appeal, Seibold and Walsh have a following, and their fans will want to meet Space Monkey.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI