cover image Looking for the Easy Life

Looking for the Easy Life

Walter Dean Myers, illus. by Lee Harper, Harper, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-054375-4

Oswego Pete, a stringy-looking monkey, sweet-talks his four monkey friends into setting off on a quest for the "Easy Life"; even stolid Uh-Huh Freddie, the chief monkey, gets suckered into the trip. But after a lion eats half of Oswego Pete's tail, a shark chomps off another quarter, and a group of Hip-Hop Hippos keep the monkeys as servants (" is not the life for no self-respecting monkey," Uh-Huh Freddie complains. "I got some big-time monkey dreams I need to get back to"), the whole gang realizes that the "Easy Life" may require some initiative after all. Myers (Muhammad Ali: The People's Champion) offers deft characterizations and quick retorts ("How come you ain't got no lips?" Oswego Pete asks the shark. "'Cause I don't want nothing between me and my lunch!"), and Harper's (Woolbur) animals grin and flirt engagingly. It's tough to side with responsible Uh-Huh Freddie when all the attention is focused on hapless Oswego Pete, but in a book far less serious than his norm, Myers demonstrates a profound talent for kid-pleasing humor—it's a story-time natural. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)