Monkey and Elephant's Worst Fight Ever!

Michael Townsend, Author
Michael Townsend, Knopf, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-85717-1
Library Binding - 40 pages - 978-0-375-95717-8
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Young readers will relate to the injured feelings and unkind pranks in this comics-inspired book, presented in stylized, aptly silly doodles. When Monkey peeks in Elephant's window and sees animals donning costumes, he assumes his best friend has left him out of the fun. A three-panel strip pictures Monkey's transition "from feeling sad... to feeling mad." He freezes Elephant's toys in blocks of ice, and Elephant—who has no idea why Monkey is upset—decides to punish him, too. In separate spreads, both pals reflect on the fun they have had gathering pet rocks and watching pro wrestling. Yet they feel wronged and seek revenge: Elephant whitewashes Monkey's pet rocks, and Monkey opens the jars containing Elephant's prized "smell collection." In each case, Townsend (Billy Tartle in Say Cheese!) pictures the victim gasping and the trickster grinning maliciously, giving readers both points of view. His goofy pen-and-ink illustrations, tinted with flat digital color, look jejune. Yet his sense of the "all-out war" between ex-buddies rings true, and the other animals' friendly intervention suggests ways to clear up a misunderstanding (or avoid one in the first place). Ages 5–8. (Mar.)
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