cover image Monkey with a Tool Belt

Monkey with a Tool Belt

Chris Monroe, . . Carolrhoda, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8225-7631-0

Slightly edgy, highly detailed comics-style art will have readers poring over the pages of Monroe's (illustrator of Totally Uncool ) latest. Chico Bon Bon, a monkey, loves to build and fix things with his tools. An early picture of the monkey nonchalantly modeling his brilliantly complex tool belt, its contents neatly labeled on white space, gives a clue to the upcoming daffiness: “screwdriver/ nutdriver/ nutcracker/ squeegee/ ouija/ planer/ strainer/ grease container.” The story itself, a clichéd affair about an organ grinder who abducts Chico and Chico's subsequent use of his tools to escape, gets its oomph from the art. Laid out in panels, some numbered, some boxed; laid out in loops; arranged as vignettes; or composed like a maze, the illustrations command a reader's attention. Chico, looks sophisticated—he's a grown-up cousin of Julius the sock monkey. Look past the jacket; not only gadget jockeys will enjoy this visually polished tale. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)