Baby Monkey, Private Eye

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Baby Monkey, Private Eye Book Poster Image
Sweet, silly pictures and story will delight early readers.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

As in his earlier books, Brian Selznick packs his illustrations with details that will go right by the youngest set but delight older kids and adults. Each adventure begins with Baby Monkey's office decor reflecting the theme, with details like a bust of P.T. Barnum for the circus tale and JFK for the space story. Notes at the end of the book identify each element, making it easy to learn more, though things get progressively sillier with the index and bibliography.

Positive Messages

Many gentle notes of kindness and helpfulness along the way, leading to a sweet payoff celebrating the love between baby and mom.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Baby Monkey may be a baby, and also have a lot of trouble putting his pants on, but he's always kindhearted and ready to help, always solves the case, and always brings the unlikely criminal to justice. Baby Monkey's mom loves her baby, and the love is mutual.

Violence & Scariness

Each crime-solving episode ends with Baby Monkey holding a tied-up thief.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Baby Monkey, Private Eye, a collaboration between author-illustrator Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) with first-time kids' author David Serlin, is a tour de force of silliness (each chapter features a ridiculous stolen object and involves several pages of Baby Monkey struggling to get his pants on) and loving sweetness. Selznick's illustrations are, as always, packed with detail that will intrigue older kids and adults, but the simple language, repetition, and funny drama make this a perfect fit for the read-aloud set as well as early readers.

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What's the story?

One by one, unlikely characters come to the office of BABY MONKEY, PRIVATE EYE, wailing that someone has stolen their jewels. Their pizza. Their clown nose. Their spaceship. Time after time, Baby Monkey looks for clues, takes notes, has a snack, struggles to put on his pants, heads out the door, and quickly finds the ridiculous culprit. His last case wraps everything up sweetly and sends a message of love.

Is it any good?

Early readers and older ones too will giggle their way through the silly adventures of the infant detective whose skill at solving crimes is matched only by his trouble getting his pants on properly. Author-illustrator Brian Selznick's collaboration with first-time kids' author David Serlin is a delight on every page with its humor, imagination, and kindness as it traces the short but eventful career of Baby Monkey, Private Eye.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the work of private investigators as shown in Baby Monkey, Private Eye. Have you heard any other stories about this kind of character? Does it sound like a fun line of work?

  • Why do you think the pictures on the wall and things like that in Baby Monkey's office keep changing?

  • Do you think having lots of pictures in a book like this one helps tell the story?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and books for early readers

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