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Baby Monkey, Private Eye

by Brian Selznick
2018 / 192 pages

Baby Monkey investigates five separate cases, but the biggest mystery in each case is how he’s going to get his pants on. Like many a brilliant kid’s book there is repetition, so each time again there he is, spending 6-10 pages trying to figure out how to put one leg in after another, and hey, he’s a baby so this is tough business for a beginner.

Fortunately the cases themselves are solves in short order, with Baby Monkey recovering lost jewels, missing pizza, a clown’s red nose, and even a stolen space ship.  

At 192 pages, this is quite the tome for Grade 1. But with alternating full-page pictures, and text that only averages 3 words a page, it is quite doable. And the huge size of the book will give reader who do finish it quite the sense of accomplishment. What they might miss (and mom and dad really need to point out) is that the “villains” of the piece – all four of the thieving critters – show up on the last page as stuffed animals in Baby Monkey’s crib.

An absolute must for any school library.

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Book Reviews, Children’s picture books, Graphic novels


by Sean Rubin 224 pages / 2017 New York is the busiest city in the world, and people there are simply too busy to notice much of anything going on around them. Except Sybil. Sybil is a little girl who does notice things. And she recently noticed that her next-door neighbor is, in fact, a dinosaur. Sybil keeps getting peeks at the mysterious, very large fellow next door. But try as she might, she can’t get the evidence she needs to prove his existence to anyone else. Her parents, her teacher, and her classmates all scoff. A dinosaur in New York? How ridiculous!  Now in a secular book that tackles dinosaurs, you might expect some sort of reference to evolution. But nope, there’s none of that. This utterly charming graphic novel is, in one sense, simply a chase story, with Sybil tracking her prey through New York boroughs, the museum, the subway system, never quite getting near enough for the perfect photograph. But the enormous size of this book – 1 foot by 1 foot, with 224 pages – also gives author and illustrator Sean Rubin an opportunity to show off a city he clearly loves….even as he gently mocks residents for their self-absorption. With a girl and a dinosaur as the main characters, this is a fantastic book for boys and girls from Grade 1 on up (I loved it!). This might also be the perfect book for a reluctant reader. The big bright pictures will draw them in, and the size of the book will give them a sense of accomplishment when they finish it, while the limited amount of text per page means this is a book they can finish. Bolivar is a gorgeous goofy adventure and I can’t recommend it highly enough! There's a much shorter sequel of sorts – just 24 pages – called Bolivar Eats New York that is only okay. Sybil challenges Bolivar to try something other than corned beef sandwiches, so together they sample the fare from a half dozen or so ethnic eateries in the Big Apple serving Italian, Muslim, and Jewish fare. ...