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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Baby Monkey, Private Eye, by Brian Selznick and David Serlin. Scholastic, 2018. $21.99 all ages

"Baby Monkey!
Someone has stolen my pizza!

Baby Monkey can help!

Baby Monkey looks for clues.

Baby Monkey writes notes.

Baby Monkey eats a snack."

Baby Monkey is ready to search for a suspect! Wait! First, he needs to put his pants on ... not an easy task, to say the least. Finally ready, magnifying glass in hand, Baby Monkey quickly solves the case. Back in his office, he anticipates what might happen next.

What a collaboration this is for Brian Selznick and his husband, David Serlin! It's been a long time in the idea stage. Twenty years or so. There were rules for the development of the story ... an unusual and humorous job for a baby monkey, an unexpected difficulty for one who is so smart (the pants problem), and everything that went into the book had to make the two of them laugh.

 Aces! This wonderful book meets every one of those rules and so much more. Imagine the early reader who picks up a book of nearly two hundred pages, boasting five separate chapters (one for each case solved) and finishing it independently!!! The text is repetitive and unlikely to provide a single bump in the reading. The wonderful black-and-white illustrations, accompanied by bright red details in pertinent places will delight both children and adults alike.

As each client shows up with a problem, Baby Monkey gets right to his personal approach for solving all criminal cases. As the reader is introduced to a singer, a chef, a clown, and an astronaut, his process remains the same. And in each chapter, Brian Selznick entertains with variety in the way Baby Monkey solves the pants problem, and in the structure of his office to match the upcoming case. Through these he provides clues to the next needy client. Brilliant! Thankfully, for those of us who cannot quite make the a connection to every clue in the office spreads, he provides a key to each in back matter. If you are like me, you will be pretty happy with what you recognized, and a touch frustrated by what you missed.
The final case offers a whisper of mystery. The client is unseen but for a bonnet and dress. Tired after a hard day's work, Baby Monkey's usual approach comes undone.
"Baby Monkey!
Can you help me find my baby?
No time for clues.
No time for notes.
No time for snacks.
No time for pants."
What the what? Will Baby Monkey be able to solve this final case? Oh, yes! He will. I will leave it to you to find out how ...  

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