cover image Monkey Truck

Monkey Truck

Michael Slack, Holt/Ottaviano, $12.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8878-6

An absurd but kid-pleasing amalgam of a primate and a flatbed truck (complete with four wheels and ears-as-side-mirrors) is the troubleshooting hero of Slack's (Knuckleheads) boisterous first solo effort. Garish digital art drives the action, as Monkey Truck rolls through a verdant jungle, rescuing animals in distress. He whisks away a chameleon that is about to be trampled by an elephant, soars through the air to feed a worm to a baby bird, uses his arms to straddle a ravine to help turtles cross, and transports the entire menagerie to high ground to escape an approaching tsunami (in a book played for laughs, it's an uneasy inclusion only a few years after the massively deadly tsunami in the Indian Ocean). Scenes of an array of creatures (hippos, warthogs, and more) piled on top of Monkey Truck are among the book's silliest. Slack's choppy, rhyming text is propelled by sound effects and exclamations that enhance the book's read-aloud appeal ("Racing up a hill with a full payload,/ grind those gears!/ Go! Monkey Truck, Go!"). A slight yet spirited romp. Ages 2–4. (Jan.)