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Monday, May 7, 2012

Two Little Monkeys, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Jill Barton. Beach Lane, Simon & Schuster. 2012. $18.99 ages 2 and up

"Two little monkeys
run to a tree,
one named Cheeky,
one named Chee.

Scramble up, Cheeky!
Scramble up, Chee!
Scramble up
that big old tree!"

It's always fun to read a new story from Mem Fox. She works so hard to create perfect text that generates excitement for new readers and makes it accessible enough that they can soon be reading the book themselves. No one is a better ambassador for young children and their reading than she is...and she makes it fun, fun, fun!

If kids don't think that reading is a wonderful way to spend their time, they won't really want to do it. Mem Fox knows that, as do many others. This is just the kind of book we want to get into their hands! I know that I have mentioned this before: she says that if we read just twenty minutes each day to our children and grandchildren, we would wipe out illiteracy in one generation! Twenty minutes is doable, isn't it??

Monkeys, rhyming text and adventure. It's always fun to see what trouble monkeys might find themselves in; here, they play in the grass until fear forces them to the security of a nearby tree. It won't be long until you hear a two-year-old rattling off the rhymes. They will be clapping their hands and tapping their toes to the music in the verses. They might even jump rope to it when they get a little older.

Mem Fox doesn't like writing for young children because she finds it very difficult, indeed! That is evident in the careful choices she makes concerning words. Here she uses great verbs...peep, leap, scramble, tremble and others to help children understand the monkeys' antics and to entertain them as they share the joy in the tale.

I often used the entire Mem Fox collection as an author study when working with grade one children. The stories are just right, and the varied and talented illustrators bring life to those words so carefully written. Jill Barton uses watercolor tones in gray, blue and tan to focus on the mood for the reader. They capture attention and offer comfort as the pages are turned. The scenes offer clues to the upcoming action, and assurance that the monkeys will be just fine.  It definitely begs repeat readings, and is sure to be memorized with great delight.

Add this to your list of books for a baby shower!

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