Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Tugg is a gorilla and his best friend Teeny is a monkey and just as they are opposites in size they are opposites in personalities. Teeny is the inquisitive one and Tugg is rock solid steady, willing to do what he can to help his friend Teeny find answers and solve problems. While walking in the jungle Teeny hears the birds and remarks that it would be wonderful to make sounds like they do. Tug decides to help his friend and when he finds a bamboo flute he puts it where Teeny can find it. After much practice, Teeny learns to make beautiful music. In the next story Teeny sees some pictures made by Violet, the warthog, and decides that she is going to try her hand at painting. Kids will enjoy looking at the final product. Later at home Teeny writes a poem and after much struggling manages to create a haiku and after receiving accolades from her friends titles a new poem that segues into future stories about this unlikely pair of friends. This book is part of a new series "I am a Reader!" targeted to kids who are indeed readersLexile Measure 480L and a word count of 1100. The publisher also offers information on its web site www.sleepingbearpress.com Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
Gr 1�3—This beginning reader is divided into three chapters. Teeny the monkey and Tugg the gorilla are best friends. The first story is about Teeny's desire to create music. When she finds a hollow stick, Tugg suggests that she try blowing on the end to see what happens. She practices and practices in the jungle until she makes beautiful music. In the other stories, Teeny paints a picture but no one can guess what it is. And finally, she tries to write a poem, but it seems to fall flat on its audience. She works on it, tweaking the words and adding another verse until she is pleased. Tugg invites all of the animals to listen while Teeny reads her creation. These stories are simple, but lack energy. The humor is subtle and hardly giggle-inspiring. The cartoon artwork is colorful but somewhat generic. Mo Willems's easy readers are written with spare texts and illustrated with simple lines but every stroke is meaningful and humor pervades every page. Lewis's effort pales in comparison.—Mary Hazelton, Elementary Schools in Warren & Waldoboro, ME
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)