Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Monkey & Robot by Peter Catalanotto (2013)

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book.

The pictures weren't very interesting.  That's piss poor reasoning, but children's books should have pictures that are appealing.  These reminded me a little bit of pictures someone might have done with a pencil and some scratch paper, like old copy paper with something printed on the back of it.

I was wrong.  This book was really, really cute.  And laugh out loud funny in a couple of parts.

Like many beginning readers, it's divided into short chapters. "The Game" , which is the second story, is when I really started to dig this book.  Robot asks Monkey to play a game with him, and Monkey answers really honestly that he doesn't want to play because "I don't like to lose... I don't like to win either.  If I win, then I'll feel bad that you lost."  That's exactly how I feel about games too!   Although I love playing games, I had to learn to lose, and learn to win as well.  I'd never heard games described that way before, and I imagine lots of kids feel the same way.

I also loved "The Hide-and-Seek" chapter, and loved the picture when Monkey found Robot.  That's the only picture I liked in the whole book, but I actually guffawed!

Reminded me of easy / beginning readers I've loved in the past, simple stories that are cute and/or funny.  Arthur's Christmas Cookies by Lilian Hoban is also about monkeys (no robots), and the tone of this book, the language and dialogue, definitely reminded me of Hoban's monkey world.  James Stevenson's Mud Flat also has this tone, although the wit in Mud Flat is much dryer and adult (in an intelligent way, not in a sexual way).

Monkey & RobotMonkey & Robot by Peter Catalanotto
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The tone and dialogue reminded me a little bit of another monkey world - Lilian Hoban's Arthur's Christmas Cookies (sadly, no robots in that world).  This monkey is more modern than Hoban's, but the stories are simple and funny, just like that.  The best beginning readers and short chapter books all seem to have that delightful tone to them - a little droll, with some humor, tinged with sweetness.  The pictures in this weren't my favorite - they sort of looked like someone gave the author a pencil and some scratch paper (like copy paper with something printed on the other side that no one wanted) but there is this one picture at the end that made me literally laugh out loud.  The first line though - "Monkey and Robot met at work."  Was that a lab, and the idea of monkeys in a lab is a sad one.  I didn't want to dwell on that one too much.

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