Ah, back-to-school: sad but true, there are some youngsters who are already up and at 'em for another year of edumacation. But what if you've never been? Author/illustrator Marc Brown explores the first day of school jitters in this recent release, Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten. Read on, and you also have the chance to win a copy!
Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten by Marc Brown
Publication date: 23 June 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Category: Picture book
Keywords: Anxiety, first day of school, social skills
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review
About the Book
Marc Brown, creator of the beloved Arthur books and TV show, offers a charming new character—and a fun and reassuring story about preparing for the first day of school.
Kindergarten is only a week away... but Monkey is NOT ready. What if he gets on the wrong bus? What if they don’t have any red crayons? What if he doesn’t like the snacks? What if he doesn’t make new friends? There are so many thoughts running through Monkey’s head! But step by step, his family eases his worries: they get him a new backpack, help him read books about school, prepare his lunch, and make sure Monkey is excited—and ready—for the Big Day.
If you're an Arthur fan, you probably think of Marc Brown's iconic artwork as flat, flesh-toned anthropomorphic characters, most notably Arthur (an aardvark-ish youngster) and his sister, D.W. Indeed, Brown's prolificness in books and TV makes this association with humor, heart, and animals that would look perfectly at home in a minivan almost unavoidable. Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten definitely carries this signature style, without the flatness we're used to from Arthur.
Monkey is drawn in scribbles that look like crayon spattered with paint or what looks like watercolor resist (it's really colored pencil and gouache). The backgrounds are delightfully busy, riddled with letters and numbers you sometimes have to squint to see. The splotches and scratches, along with the childlike scrawl of the text, leap off the page in gorgeous bright color. You'll still recognize a bit of what we expect from Marc Brown in the roundness of the monkey family's eyes and the shapes of their heads; the cheerfully suburban outfits of Mom, Dad, and Monkey; and the playful, sweet dynamic between Monkey and his older brother, but the flatness is gone. I, for one, don't miss it.
Meanwhile, the family tries different things to soothe Monkey's anxiety about his first day of school. They go to the library and look at books, talk with his friends (some of whom have already heard about kindergarten from their older siblings), and play pretend-school, drilling the numbers 1 through 12 and the letters from A to Z. As much as they try to help, Monkey's still not ready. Will he ever be?
Brown is known for inserting his own kids into his Arthur books, so if you look carefully, you might spot some familiar looking elements, an homage to Jean de Brunhoff--and maybe Richard Scarry, or is it just my imagination?--as well as images that look like they might have some sort of back story to them. (Look closely at the books in the library, if you get a chance.) I'd like to ask Marc for these stories, but I'd be equally happy coming up with my own ideas of what these are and why they're here.
All in all, Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten is a good addition to that list of books to get kids excited and prepared for their first day of school, like First Day Jitters and Countdown to Kindergarten. Not just that, but I can see a whole line of books developing with our anxious little protagonist at its core (the mom is pregnant)! There may be scary times ahead in life, but with family and friends to learn from, Monkey's in good hands.
Find the author: www.marcbrownstudios.com
Win a copy of Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten by Marc Brown. The sample for review and giveaway were provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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