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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Count the Monkeys, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell. Hyperion Book, Hachette. 2013. $17.99 ages 3 and up

"I never thought I would miss those crocodiles, but these 4 GRIZZLY BEARS are even worse! We're never going to count the monkeys! Okay, put your arms above your head! Make a loud roar! Bang together some pots and pans, if you have them.

While it seems a simple thing to do...count out some monkeys, it proves a difficult task for readers. The sign shows us where they are, and all we have to do is follow that sign to get our job done!

With each turn of the page, there is no occasion to count them...there are none. There are fearsome predators like 1 KING COBRA who appears to have scared them away. We don't really want to catch his eye. He seems happy admiring himself in the mirror. Perhaps we can sneak past.

Of course we can; but were we expecting 2 MONGOOSES (Or is that 2 MONGEESE?)? I don't think so, but we do get a chance to vote on the proper grammar. The narrator is always happy to include us, with a raised hand, a hand movement, banging pots and pans, humming. We are never at a loss for action:

"Phew! 6 SWEET OLD BEEKEEPERS have shooed off all those bees. Say "thank you" six times, very politely -these ladies care about good manners. Now, finally the monkeys can come back. Turn the page and count the monkeys!"

Do you think they are back? The jungle has never been so full of nonsense! With every page turn, young readers and listeners are sure to be hooting with laughter. The narrator is a wonderful guide through the pitfalls that constantly crop up, and is occasionally frustrated by events, especially with those persistent lumberjacks. It takes some unconventional thinking, but a solution is found to rid ourselves of them. Still no monkeys, and there are no pages left! What a bummer.

A final turn of the page to the back endpapers. I wonder?!?

You will read this absurd, hilariously funny, interactive counting book over and over again. It won't even bother you. Every time I read it I find more to delight my ears and my eyes. Kevin Cornell fills the pages with action, with bright colors and a verdant jungle, with fearsome mongooses (?), with insatiable grizzlies, with compliant beekeepers, with smug wolves, with hungry lumberjacks and even happy rhinoceroses with halitosis. I mean it, he fills the pages!

Don't miss it!

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