Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake

64p. (Mr. Monkey: Bk. 1). S. & S. Jul. 2018. Tr $8.99. ISBN 9781534404311.
PreS-Gr 2—Mr. Monkey does, in fact, bake a banana cake, but that is only the beginning. After overindulging in bananas while baking, he's too full to eat the cake. He decides to take it to a cake show across town. It's a long walk filled with obstacles including a tricky road crossing, a hippie bicyclist, an angry dog, a territorial gorilla, hungry birds, and many near catastrophes. He finally arrives safely at his destination only to discover that the show is over, which seems bad until the angry gorilla shows up to make things worse. Pandemonium ensues until Mr. Monkey saves the day and makes a friend when he offers the gorilla a banana. Poor Mr. Monkey nearly makes it to the end of the story with his cake intact, but he is felled by one of the oldest jokes around—he slips on a banana peel and lands face first in his cake. Mack's third-person text perfectly narrates Mr. Monkey's adventures while his cartoon illustrations with great facial expressions and speech balloons give Mr. Monkey a voice. The use of white space, comic book—type panels, and perfect details in the illustrations really make the narrative dance. It's a great pairing with hilarious effect.
VERDICT Mack has another winner with this cross between a picture book and beginning reader. Kids will love hapless Mr. Monkey and root for his success all the while enjoying his amusing near failures.

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