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Baby Monkey, Private Eye

by Brian Selznick

Publishers Weekly 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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-Selznick and Serlin take the easy reader format to new creative heights. Baby Monkey may be a baby (and a monkey) but he has a full-time job as a private eye. Baby Monkey solves five cases (one for each chapter) by looking carefully for visual clues. Full-page illustrations facing single, simple, and often repetitive sentences in an oversized typeface make this ideal for emerging readers. The sharp pacing and charming humor also make it an excellent read-aloud choice. Selznick's signature black-and-white drawings-his noir-like style here played up to full effect-invite readers to linger and look carefully. With each case, the framed paintings and various bric-a-brac decorating Baby Monkey's well-appointed office changes. Hidden clues and jokes abound, as in "The Case of the Missing Spaceship," wherein the opening two-page spread shows a framed poster of A Trip to the Moon (a hat tip to devoted Selznick fans), an image of Apollo 13, a portrait of Galileo Galilei, and a bust of John F. Kennedy. Will most of these references sail over the heads of the intended audience? Perhaps. But the story works just as well without them, and Selznick and Serlin take pains to make sure young readers have enough information to look them up if they are so inclined; the "Key to Baby Monkey's Office" in the back matter lists each visual reference by chapter/case. A running gag about Baby Monkey forgetting to wear-and struggling to put on-pants will have readers cracking up. In the very last case, the primate private eye jumps into the loving arms of his mom and takes a well-earned nap. VERDICT A delightful easy reader that is as funny as it is elegant. This will be enjoyed equally by youngsters and their grown-ups.-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* In an office that looks like it came straight out of a noir film, Baby Monkey solves a series of perplexing mysteries. First, an opera singer is missing her necklace. Then, a chef's pizza's been stolen, a clown's nose goes missing, and an astronaut can't find her spaceship. In every case, Baby Monkey eagerly offers to help, has a snack, takes some notes, puts on his pants, and captures the culprit. There's not a lot of detective work (he spends more time struggling with pants), but the details in Selznick's signature fine-lined, crosshatched pencil artwork reveal plenty of clues. When the astronaut stops by, for instance, Baby Monkey is reading Famous Space Crimes, and a still of Georges Méliès' A Trip to the Moon is on the wall. Though 192 pages might seem like a lot for a picture book, Selznick and Serlin pull off the feat rather brilliantly. Actions are stretched out over multiple pages (one struggle with pants takes nine pages), which makes the chapters fly by, and while they can be read individually, those who read them in order will notice clever changes as the cases progress. An inventive format and tongue-in-cheek sense of humor make this sweet and silly book almost irresistible.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.