Monkey and the Little One

Claire Alexander. Sterling, $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4549-1580-5

This friendship tale introduces Monkey, who “lived all alone in the jungle. He liked it that way.” He’s miffed when a mouse appears, umbrella and valise in hand, but his requests that his visitor go away are ignored, since the Little One doesn’t understand “monkey-speak.” It doesn’t take much to see this relationship as a metaphor for that between a child and a new (and perhaps similarly unwanted) sibling, especially after the Little One starts “making himself at home” under Monkey’s hammock, following him everywhere, and copying his actions. After the Little One disrupts Monkey’s quiet swim at the lake, Monkey’s anger boils over; droplets shower from his sodden brown fur as he shouts, “Leave me alone!” and a downcast Little One wanders away, despondently clutching a striped inner tube. While the story holds no real surprises (a lonely Monkey seeks out the Little One and brings him back to the jungle), Alexander’s (Back to Front and Upside Down!) paintings do a fine job of capturing her characters’ strong emotions while creating an appealing jungle home for them to share—eventually. Ages 3–5. (May)