Tugg and Teeny (Tugg and Teeny Series #1)by J. Patrick Lewis, Christopher Denise
Meet Tugg and Teeny. Best friends since -- well, forever! Tugg (a gorilla) and Teeny (a monkey) live together in their jungle neighborhood, Sidekick Thicket. As opposite as night and day, the two friends work and play together, each helping the other face life's challenges. Lively, impulsive Teeny always wants to try new things. Sure and steady Tugg is always there to lend a hand or give a word of encouragement. In this beginning chapter book series, Book One's trio of stories has Teeny learning to become a musician, developing her talents as an artist, and fine-tuning her skills as a poet. Book Two has her pondering strange and quirky situations in the jungle. All with the help of her best friend Tugg. J. Patrick (Pat) Lewis lives in Westerville, Ohio, and is the author of more than 60 books for children. He writes full-time, visits elementary schools, and speaks at literature conferences. His other books with Sleeping Bear are First Dog and First Dog's White House Christmas. Christopher Denise is an award-winning illustrator whose books have appeared on The New York Times bestsellers list. Known for his work on the Redwall picture book series, he also works as a visual development artist and character designer for feature film animation. Christopher lives in Barrington, Rhode Island.
Another odd couple makes its foray into beginning-reader territory with three stories about Teeny the monkey's efforts to realize her artistic potential while best friend Tugg the gorilla cheers her on.
When Teeny "hears the jungle birds sing," she wishes to make beautiful music. Denise's accompanying watercolor falls short of depicting a forlorn monkey, but text asserts, "Teeny looked so sad that Tugg decided he would help her get her wish." He finds a flutelike stick and places it in Teeny's path. She discovers it and practices, and ultimately her music inspires other jungle animals to take music lessons. Later attempts at painting and poetry aren't as immediately successful, which provides a certain distinguishing element to the book. The painting she produces is an abstract portrait of Violet the warthog, which no one initially appreciates. Animal friends laud her laborious effort to write four simple lines of poetry, and Tugg says, "you are on your way to becoming a good writer," a just-right assessment of earnest, though perhaps not terribly artful, results.
Emergent readers will identify with Teeny as someone learning new skills, and her can-do attitude, emboldened by a supportive community, is a great model for attaining success. (Early reader. 6-8)
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