cover image So Say the Little Monkeys

So Say the Little Monkeys

Nancy Van Laan. Atheneum Books, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81038-1

Children will find much to relate to in this whimsical tale of a wild bunch of monkeys intent on having fun and easily distracted from more practical considerations. Drawn from a Brazilian folktale, Van Laan's (Little Fish, Lost) infectious rhyming text tells of the tiny monkeys (""blackmouths"") who live along the Rio Negro in Brazil. Homeless wanderers, the blackmouths sleep in tall palm trees which, because of sharp thorns on their branches, are not the most comfortable resting places. Heo's (Pets!) pencil, oil and collage illustrations carry the childlike energy that has become her calling card. She illustrates the antics of the monkeys in a crazy quilt of offbeat hues: chartreuse, burnt orange, banana yellow and aqua. The primates cavort and dance among the thorns in pages that alternate between spreads and single-page illustrations. As in all folktales, there is an underlying cautionary lesson woven through the revels and sing-along soundings (""Plinka Plinka"" when it rains, ""Wooya Wooya"" when the wind howls): sometimes it pays to plan for the storms and dangers that seem so distant when the sun is shining and calling little ones out to play. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)