«MONKEY: NOT READY FOR KINDERGARTEN
BROWN, Marc. illus. by Marc Brown. 32p. ebook available. Knopf. 2015. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780553496581. LC 2014002818.
PreS–Monkey draws on his supportive family to combat first-day-of-school jitters in this new picture book. His parents and big brother are very excited about kindergarten, but Monkey isn’t so sure. Along with the usual list of worrisome “what ifs,” Monkey doubts he even needs kindergarten. After all, he can count to 12, and he’s pretty good with the alphabet. Brown’s narrative models a family-centered approach to combating common preschool fears as Monkey and his family prepare together for the big day. Monkey plays teacher, demonstrating for his “students” (Mom and Dad) how to count, and they visit the library to read books about starting school. A playdate with some of his potential classmates gives him a chance to start making friends early, and the night before, Monkey helps get everything ready. Throughout, the emphasis is on Monkey as an active participant in the preparation, taking ownership of this new experience. He picks out his own lunchbox, helps pack his lunch, and even selects a favorite book to remind him of home. With his big, expressive eyes, Monkey is the center of Brown’s vibrant spreads. Colored pencil and goauche illustrations and childlike hand lettering illuminate Monkey’s personality and keep the story grounded in his perspective. VERDICT While not breaking any new ground, Brown’s kid-centered perspective and accessible model for preparation make this title rise to the top of its class. A first purchase.–Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, MN