School Library Journal
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PreS-Gr 1-Barnett is back with a zany interactive counting book that's sure to tickle youngsters' funny bones. The text starts on the title page with the words: "Hey kids! Time to count the monkeys. all you have to do is turn the page.." But on the first page, one king cobra has scared them off. Next, two mongooses frighten off the cobra, and so on, with ever-increasing numbers of wacky animals and people until "10 polka-dotted rhinoceroses with bagpipes and bad breath" are called upon to get rid of 9 lumberjacks and the book runs out of pages, leaving 0 monkeys. Don't despair, because the final page turn reveals a huge number of monkeys filling up the endpapers. Cornell's full-bleed cartoon artwork featuring mongooses wearing numbered racing tops, crocodiles with top hats and canes, and an assortment of lumberjacks in plaid tops sporting a variety of mustaches and beards is a perfect fit for Barnett's chatty, tongue-in-cheek tone. Cornell packs the pages with oversize characters and plenty of color, all on a green backdrop reminiscent of the jungle from the initial endpaper. The story unfolds in an almost cinematic style that will have young listeners impatiently turning the pages. Barnett's Chloe and the Lion (Hyperion, 2012) broke into metafiction, making it more accessible to older readers. This title is more straightforward and will appeal to fans of What to Do If an Elephant Stands on Your Foot (Dial, 2012) and other interactive books. Sure to be a hit, even if those elusive monkeys are rather difficult to count when they finally make an appearance.-Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Carrying out the titular imperative proves tough, given that, on every spread, monkeys are nowhere to be seen. Luckily, the mounting number of predators that have scared them off can be enumerated, even if their appearances don't always jive with the classic food chain. There's one very vain king cobra on the opening spread, but soon the action devolves to include "6 sweet old beekeepers" and "10 polka-dotted rhinoceroses with bagpipes and bad breath." Cornell (who previously teamed up with Barnett for Mustache!) is an artist in the modern-day Disney animation tradition, effortlessly juggling funny chaos, irreverent characterizations, and visual winks and nudges. Barnett's narrator may be increasingly frustrated ("We're never going to count the monkeys!") but he also has expert comic timing, includes multiple opportunities for audience participation, and riffs on collaborative learning: "Look! 2 mongooses have chased away that cobra! Or is that 2 mongeese? I am pretty sure it is 2 monogooses. Let's vote." This spot-on spoof of counting books is the perfect reward for anyone who's put in a hard day's work with numbers, big or small. Ages 3-6. Author's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.