cover image The Monkey with a Bright Blue Bottom

The Monkey with a Bright Blue Bottom

Steve Smallman, , illus. by Nick Schon. . Good Books, $16.99 (26pp) ISBN 978-1-56148-668-7

This rhyming folktale asks readers to imagine a time when “the world was new” and almost all the animals had coats and skin “as dull as an elephant's poo”—all the animals, that is, except the birds, who flashed through the sky “like feathery rainbows.” Finding a box of paints and seeing his chance during afternoon naptime, an envious and mischievous monkey does a jungle-wide makeover—he paints a leopard bright yellow (dripping black spots on it accidentally) and add stripes to both the zebra and the tail of the lemur. Appropriately, as the title hints, the monkey gets his own cosmetic comeuppance. Smallman's (The Lamb Who Came for Dinner ) chipper verse doesn't have much in the way of wordplay, but it moves along at a crowd-pleasing, bouncy clip (“And still to this day when the monkey goes by,/ The animals giggle, they laugh till they cry”). Similarly, Schon's (Look What I Found! ) workmanlike characterizations and standard-issue environments are buoyed considerably by his festively tropical palette and a wide repertoire of expressions. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)