cover image Spunky Little Monkey

Spunky Little Monkey

Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson, illus. by Brian Won. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-77643-1

Using a rhythm that’s a “modified variation” of the clapping game “Down Down Baby” (according to an endnote), Sampson—who was the late Martin’s longtime collaborator—motivates kids to get off their duffs and get moving, especially as a prelude to the rest of the day. Their monkey hero is a reluctant exerciser at first, but he’s on his feet soon enough, eagerly responding to the narrator-as-fitness-instructor’s prompts. The call-and-response text, peppered with silly interjections (“Rutabaga, Rutabaga! Sis! Boom! Bah!”) will make any fan of the Martin and Sampson books feel at home. There are four simple actions: an upper body sway (“First you get the rhythm of the head: Ding-Dong!/ Have you got the rhythm of the head? Ding-Dong?”) followed by clapping, stomping, and hip-shaking. Won’s (Hooray for Today!) digitized and generously scaled watercolors, punctuated with typography that’s as spunky as the monkey himself, make it clear that exercising isn’t just good for you—it’s a way of expressing agency and independence. Ages 3–5. [em]Authors’ agent: Ron Zollshan, Kirchoff/Wohlberg. Illustrator’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Jan.) [/em]