cover image Baby Monkey, Private Eye

Baby Monkey, Private Eye

Brian Selznick and David Serlin, illus. by Brian Selznick. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-338-18061-9

A nearly 200-page chapter book for emerging readers? Using a pared-down vocabulary and luxuriant, chiaroscuro drawings, Selznick (The Marvels) and husband Serlin make it work—brilliantly. Four oddball robbery victims show up at Baby Monkey’s Sam Spade–worthy office, including a chef whose pizza has gone missing and a clown who has had his red nose stolen. Baby Monkey’s basic MO is always the same: look for clues, take notes, eat a snack, put on pants, and solve the crime (generally by looking right outside his office door). The tight, repeating structure gives Selznick plenty of opportunity to riff on the details: in each chapter, Baby Monkey has a different (and triumphant) wrestling match with his pants, and the furnishings of his office change to match the profession of each client (for those who can’t guess these Easter eggs, a key and index are included). “Hooray for Baby Monkey!” are the last words of this endearingly funny graphic novel/picture book/early reader—it’s a sentiment that readers of all ages will wholeheartedly affirm. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)