cover image Monkey & Robot

Monkey & Robot

Peter Catalanotto. S&S/Atheneum/Jackson, $12.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-4424-2978-9

For this beginning reader, Catalanotto (Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know-It-All) writes a quartet of stories about best buddies Monkey and Robot and illustrates them in pencil, using strong lines for his protagonists and soft shading for the backgrounds. It looks, at first, as though Monkey is the fragile one and Robot the guide and counsel. “I know the monster in the movie isn’t real,” says Monkey, in a story about handling fear. “But do you know what is really real?... That I really get really scared at monster movies.” Later, though, it’s Robot who has never played hide-and-seek, and Monkey who must explain the rules. The episodes don’t always stay focused. In a sequence about a cocoon hatching, after Monkey puts a sandwich in a tank with the cocoon, the sandwich pieces disappear in a way that distracts from the story arc. Elsewhere, a board game sequence about winning and losing bogs down in slapstick humor. Yet the passages about the friends’ strong and supportive relationship make the stories worthwhile, and good-humored silliness prevails. Ages 6–9. (Jan.)