Slightly edgy, highly detailed comics-style art will have readers poring over the pages of Monroe's (illustrator of Totally Uncool) latest. Chico Bon Bon, a monkey, loves to build and fix things with his tools. An early picture of the monkey nonchalantly modeling his brilliantly complex tool belt, its contents neatly labeled on white space, gives a clue to the upcoming daffiness: "screwdriver/ nutdriver/ nutcracker/ squeegee/ ouija/ planer/ strainer/ grease container." The story itself, a clichéd affair about an organ grinder who abducts Chico and Chico's subsequent use of his tools to escape, gets its oomph from the art. Laid out in panels, some numbered, some boxed; laid out in loops; arranged as vignettes; or composed like a maze, the illustrations command a reader's attention. Chico, looks sophisticated-he's a grown-up cousin of Julius the sock monkey. Look past the jacket; not only gadget jockeys will enjoy this visually polished tale. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Monkey with a Tool Beltby Chris Monroe
Whether you need a beebersaw or a chisel, Chico Bon Bon's your monkey. He can build or fix just about anythingfrom a dock for the ducks to a clock for the Clucks, even a small roller coaster for local chipmunks. But will his tools and his sharp wit save him when an organ grinder sets his sights on making Chico a circus star? Chris Monroe's quirky hero and detailed illustrations will absorb readers in an entertaining adventure that shows there is an inventive way out of every problemif you have the right tools.
K-Gr 3- Chico Bon Bon builds and fixes all kinds of things for his friends and family. Suddenly, lured by a banana split sitting on a small table, he is trapped by an organ-grinder and taken on a long, rough ride to the circus camp. Held captive in a box, he uses his trusty tools in a 12-step plan to escape. After catching a bus and getting home safely, he puts on his pajamas-and his tool belt-before dreaming of more things to build. The story is told with occasional rhymes, as when Chico builds "a dock for the ducks/and a clock for the clucks." The art is much stronger than the text. Monroe's watercolor-and-ink illustrations enlarge Chico's adventure. Maps show twisty roads, a busy village, and a handy bus stop, and captions label the tools in Chico's belt. Small pictures show the pipe organ he builds for a ladybug and a go-kart to transport skunks. The escape of Bobo, the organ-grinder's previous monkey, with the help of several tigers, is a real treat for observant readers. These same observant readers may also ask where Chico got the big rubber hammer to hit the organ-grinder's big toe. Because there is so much to see in the tiny, detailed pictures, this is better suited to independent reading-and looking-than to group sharing.-Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TNCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Meet the Author
Chris Monroe is the author/illustrator of the long-running comic strip Violet Days as well as the anthology Ultra Violet: Ten Years of Violet Days. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.
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I bought this for my son thinking it would be really cute and it is for the first few pages....then, in a plot line that flows like mud, Chico abruptly gets kidnapped by an organ grinder and has to escape. The monkey with a tool belt idea is cute and the monkey's name is cute but that's it. Story is awful and illustrations are cartoonish and nothing to rave about. I would avoid and go for a monkey book with a little more of a story and better flow.
"Monkey with a Tool Belt" is about exactly that, a monkey with a tool belt. His name is Chico Bon Bon. He uses his tool belt to build things for his friends and to solve problems. The problem he needs to solve in this story is escaping from the organ grinder who plans to put him in the circus. Chico Bon Bon teaches children that with the proper tools and a little ingenuity you can accomplish a great deal, including overcoming challenges. Chico Bon Bon - what a great name. I like it and my granddaughter loves to say it. As a fellow IPPY award winner, I originally purchased "Monkey with a Tool Belt" to checkout the competition. It was not my favorite book but I learned a valuable lesson in that it is one of my granddaughter's new favorite books. Go figure, it appeals to its intended market - children. She likes the excitement and suspense of Chico getting captured and then later escaping. There are two parts that make the book interactive for a child like my granddaughter. The first is a full spread showing the long and winding road that the organ grinder rides his bike across, with an entrapped Chico strapped to the back. The text reads, "He road a long, long way." However, my granddaughter slowly traces the whole road and all its loops and turns with her index finger. The text becomes "He rode a long, long, long, long, loooooooong, looooooooooooong, long, long, long, loooooooooong, long, long way. She loves it! She also traces along with her finger when Chico escapes and runs away down another road. My granddaughter likes the cartoon style humor and illustrations. Now back to Chico Bon Bon. The first page of the story has an illustration of Chico wearing his tool belt. It reads, "Here is Chico Bon Bon." One time I tried to take a shortcut through the book by starting on page four and paraphrasing, "The monkey with a tool belt was quite handy . . ." My granddaughter said, "No. From the beginning." I guess it's just not the same without "Here is Chico Bon Bon." Through my granddaughter's eyes this book has grown on me. I plan to purchase Ms. Monroe's "Monkey with a Tool Belt" and "The Noisy Problem" as a gift for my granddaughter.
My almost five year old LOVES this book. He has asked us to read it to him every night since he got it (as a Christmas gift). It is well written, the pictures are detailed, and yet it's funny and not too long. Something about this book just captivates him...he has it memorized as do we!