A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Count the Monkeys, by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell, is a sort of spoof of conventional counting books. The monkeys of the title have been scared off by a succession of animals and people (that the readers can count), and the actions of those get crazier and crazier as the book goes on. It's a fun ride that's more about that journey than the destination, but there's some monkey satisfaction at the very end.
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What's the story?
An unseen narrator tells readers to COUNT THE MONKEYS, but the animals have been scared off by a king cobra. Kids get more instructions on each spread-- such as "raise your hand," "cover your eyes," "make a loud roar!" and "move your hand in a zigzag" -- to fend off various scary critters, from "4 grizzly bears" to "5 bee swarms" to "7 wolves," in the continuing search for the monkeys. After much counting craziness and chaos, readers reach the end of the book finding "0 monkeys" to count -- until they turn the last page and find a horde of them on the endpapers.
Is it any good?
Count the Monkeys is a funny, clever picture book that plays with the traditional counting motif by making the story about never finding the animals intended to be counted. Instead, readers get to count all sorts of other creatures and people that have scared off the poor monkeys. It's a silly, zany, and action-packed quest, with lots of mishaps and missteps, culminating in "10 polka-dotted rhinoceroses with bagpipes and bad breath," that's guaranteed to provoke giggles, if not guffaws.
Kids will love the expressive, comical illustrations (including "9 lumberjacks" eating pancakes), and the wacky instructions add a playful interactive element -- as if readers' gestures will truly lead to finding the monkeys.
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