cover image SOCK MONKEY GOES TO HOLLYWOOD: A Star Is Bathed


Cece Bell, . . Candlewick, $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1962-6

Those who resist laundering their plush toys (or bathing themselves) will appreciate Bell's imaginatively silly debut. In this mock Tinseltown saga, a smudged Sock Monkey tears open an invitation to an award ceremony. "He was a nominee for Best Supporting Toy in a motion picture!" But alas, the card stipulates that "Nominees must be clean." Sock Monkey dimly recalls being spotless once, but flashbacks show him nuzzling an ice cream cone, sliding into home plate and dancing in a mud puddle. Now, he fears washing. "A bath will make me nothing more than a blotchy, lumpy, shrunken monkey!" he says. His unsoiled friends, including Miss Bunn (a pink rabbit), Froggie and Blue Pig, gently urge him to lather in "the warm Simian Springs," rinse in "the perfectly pure Lilypad Pond" and dry on "the hot Sahara Sands." Bell uses smooth areas of color and jokey word balloons in her playful digital art. Sock Monkey's nubby weave, which goes from mottled gray-brown to distinct brown and white, becomes the focal point of every page. After her tongue-in-cheek description of Sock Monkey's spa treatment, the author pictures him in a tuxedo, walking down the red carpet on his noodly legs. In the Hollywood-ending tradition, she allows him to thank those who helped make his achievement possible. By turning the spotlight on a generic toy, Bell wittily calls attention to Sock Monkey's peers, the great unwashed. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)