cover image Maniac Monkeys on Magnolia Street

Maniac Monkeys on Magnolia Street

Angela Johnson. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-679-89053-9

Johnson (Toning the Sweep) once again evokes a strong sense of place with this breezy, slice-of-life chapter book. Loosely structuring the volume as a series of vignettes, the author recounts a child's exploration of her new neighborhood. Any homesickness Charlie (Charlene) feels for Monroe Street and her old friends there quickly disappears when Billy, a boy on roller skates, stops by her house to share a plate of cookies. (""[He] would be my best friend in the whole world. But I don't know that yet, though."") Charlie and Billy, soon an inseparable duo, hunt down ""maniac monkeys"" (seen only by Charlie's 12-year-old brother), view Mr. Pinkton's remarkable collection of fish, marvel at the lifelike sculptures sitting in Miss Marcia's yard and discover buried treasure in a vacant lot. Youngsters will find Magnolia Street to be a comforting refuge where summer afternoons are savored at a leisurely pace and neighbors always have time for a friendly chat. Demonstrating how the imagination can transform day-to-day observations into something magical, this satisfying novel may spur readers to take a closer look at their own familiar surroundings. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 8-10. (Dec.)