The creators of The Gruffalo invent an engaging story about a little monkey looking for his mother. When the monkey says, "She's big!... Bigger than me," a helpful butterfly takes him to an elephant. When he says his mother has "a tail that coils around trees," the butterfly takes him to a snake. As the little monkey's descriptions continue to confound the butterfly, Donaldson squeezes in some basic animal facts. The monkey's mother, unlike the spider, would rather "eat fruit than swallow a fly," and she doesn't have "claws or feathery wings" like the parrot. Scheffler's teeming jungle illustrations present easy-to-recognize animals. Each spread features a fresh expression of perplexity on the little monkey's face as he narrows his search terms. The rhymed text sometimes stumbles, using language that sounds more appropriate to an adult narrator (the monkey's lines include, "Oh, dear, what a muddle!" and "None of these creatures look like me!"). In a twist on the expected ending, the butterfly looks for an animal that resembles the little monkey and takes him to his father. The simple story and cheery illustrations will appeal to preschoolers, who will relate to the hunt for just the right words. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
Little Monkey is missing his mother, and a helpful butterfly wants to help. Monkey's descriptions are not exact enough: "big" leads to an elephant, "coils around trees" leads to a snake, "has legs" leads to a spider, and " lives in trees" leads to a parrot! After a few more miscues, Monkey finally tells the butterfly that she "looks like me!" Since butterfly's babies do not look like her, this is extremely helpful information! In a fun twist, Monkey is taken to his father, and then reunited with his mother. Donaldson's rhyming text has the rhythm and beat of "Hush Little Baby" and, for the most part, could be easily sung aloud. Scheffler has created a jungle swarming with lush plant life and expressive animals, not limited to those identified in the text. Basic science about where the animals live, what they eat, and how they look, is subtly woven into the text. The text is full of descriptive words and lends itself to predictions as young listeners try to guess what animal will show up next. This makes a great read-aloud and will be enjoyed by young and old alike. Originally published in England in 2000, as Monkey Puzzle by Macmillan. Reviewer: Peg Glisson
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1- When a little monkey loses his mother, a blundering butterfly swoops in to save the day. Monkey describes his mom as "bigger than me," so the butterfly takes him to an elephant. Then monkey describes his mother with a tail that curls around trees, and the butterfly takes him to a snake. With each new descriptor, the butterfly tries another outlandishly wrong animal until the exasperated monkey points out that none of the suggested mothers even looks like him. However, the butterfly has a very good reason for making such a mistake-her babies don't look like her. The bouncy rhyming couplets will charm children, and the butterfly's part can be sung to the tune of "Hush Little Baby." Bold cartoon illustrations on full spreads in bright jungle colors feature a host of expressive insects and creatures. Following a tradition of successful mother-identification stories such as P. D. Eastman's Are You My Mother? (Random, 1960) and Deborah Guarino's Is Your Mama a Llama? (Scholastic, 1989), this story will be entertaining for both groups and one-on-one sharing.-Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA
In a picture book sure to be a pleaser at storytime, Donaldson takes the oft-written theme of a lost child and tweaks it by lightly basing the rhythmic speech on that of the tune, "Hush Little Baby." A butterfly with a bizarrely human face tries to help little monkey find his mom but keeps missing the mark. Butterfly takes monkey to an elephant, snake, parrot, bat and other animals before the little monkey tells her that he actually looks like his parents, unlike Butterfly's offspring. Soon all is well, when monkey reunites first with dad and then mom. The text can be sung aloud quite easily. Scheffler's wonderfully colorful pictures convey a sense of forward motion and simultaneously little monkey's frustration with Butterfly's choices. The forest is sumptuously green and home to numerous other animals not named in the text. Children will enjoy the humorous details in the drawings, while adults will enjoy a different take on the lost-child theme. (Picture book. 3-6)