cover image How Mr. Monkey Saw the Whole World

How Mr. Monkey Saw the Whole World

Walter Dean Myers. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32057-3

Newbery Honor author Myers (Scorpions; Somewhere in the Darkness) again displays his versatility with this pithy and piquant fable. Repeatedly pulling the same dirty trick, Mr. Buzzard offers, for the price of an item of food, to carry a hare, an antelope, a crab and a monkey ""up to the clouds,"" so that each can be the first of his species to see the ""whole world."" But once in the air, the bird scares his victims by turning them upside-down, promising to bring them back to earth safely only if they hand over their entire cache of food. Clever Mr. Monkey finally foils the greedy fellow, who reluctantly returns the purloined victuals. Using repetition to humorous effect, Myers's tale dispenses its moral unequivocally. Effective as his storytelling is, Saint James (Tukama Tootles the Flute) steals the show with her bold paintings. Streamlining her vibrantly hued compositions to a minimalism just short of abstraction, she nonetheless includes some playful particulars: each animal, including the villain, is clad only in boxer shorts; and Mr. Monkey, clinging to the back of the soaring buzzard, brazenly sticks his long scarlet tongue out at his tormentor. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)