cover image Two Little Monkeys

Two Little Monkeys

Mem Fox, illus. by Jill Barton. S&S/Beach Lane, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4169-8687-4

Aping the format of the classic nursery rhyme “Two Little Dickie Birds,” Fox’s variation features two small monkeys “playing near a tree,/ one named Cheeky,/ one named Chee.” The monkeys escape from a prowling animal by climbing up the tree to safety (“Scramble up, Cheeky!/ Scramble up, Chee!/ Scramble up/ that big old tree”). They tremble and hide, but when one of the monkeys peeps out to get a good look at the leopard (“Ooooooh... Scary!”), a near-fall necessitates a jump to a second tree, where the monkeys are finally safe and sound. The repetition, lively meter, and ample drama in Fox’s (Let’s Count Goats!) verse will easily keep young readers’ attention at storytime. Barton’s (The Ring Went Zing!) grey long-limbed monkeys have a decidedly toddlerlike resemblance, their faces readily transmitting their glee and fear at various points in the story. While the delicately detailed watercolor illustrations perhaps do not make the climactic fall/leap as clear as it could be, and the second tree appears out of nowhere, readers will still have a good sense of what’s at stake in this bit of animal-kingdom drama. Ages 4–8. (May)