Maggie’s Monkeys

Maggie’s Monkeys by Linda Sanders-Wells, illustrated by Abby Carter.

A family of pink monkeys has moved into the family’s refrigerator according to Maggie.  Everyone except her older brother goes along with her imaginary creatures.  Mom made an extra bowl of banana pudding for the monkeys, Dad watched out for shutting the door on their tails, and the older sister pretended to dress them up.  The brother tries to get the others in the family to stop playing along with Maggie, but all of them give him reasons that there just might be real monkeys in the fridge.  Even when he tries to play along with Maggie eventually, he keeps on messing it up, sitting on the invisible monkeys, reading zoo stories, and making monkey noises.  All wrong in Maggie’s eyes.  When his friends come over one day and discover Maggie’s imaginary monkeys, they start teasing her.  That changes everything!

This book perfectly captures the great imagination of children, the willingness of a family to be supportive and creative, and the sullen concern of a child who just doesn’t understand what the family is doing.  The transformation of the older brother is done believably and openly.  The rest of the family is nicely portrayed, trying to support both children.  The character of the brother is nicely balanced, showing disbelief but never sinking into being unlikeable.  Carter’s illustrations are done in black colored pencil and gouache.  They are friendly, cartoony and bright colored.

The text is nice to read aloud and the pictures will work well for a group.  I’d try it with older preschoolers who may have younger children at home that they are just as mystified by.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

A Very Curious Bear

A Very Curious Bear by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Paul Howard.

From the moment he wakes up to when he dozes off at night, a little bear is asking questions of a big bear.  The questions and answers create a dance of a poem that is charming and graceful.  Howard’s illustrations show a similar grace and charm, filled with plush, fuzzy bears, the wonder of a woods, and the thrill of the wind.  The little bear asks about all sorts of natural interests, wind blowing, stream gurgling, daisies growing, rain falling. And to each the big bear answers with poetic responses that show no exasperation but a respect for each question.

The spirit of the verse and the illustrations is so nicely matched here.  As the poem shows a caring adult, the illustrations show a caring large bear who guides and looks after the smaller.  Filled with a sweetness and gentleness, this book is great for bedtime reads or for any toddler who spends their day asking questions about the world.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Judy Blume Controversial?!

Judy Blume is controversial?!  Say it ain’t so! 

Judy Blume is liberal?  You are kidding me!

Please, can we get past the fact that Judy Blume is not only controversial and liberal but also a very strong voice and advocate for women’s rights?  It’s a no duh sort of thing.  But obviously some in the pro-life movement were surprised like Steven Ertelt of  He opens his article railing against Judy Blume’s letter of support for Planned Parenthood with:

Famous children’s author Judy Blume is no stranger to controversy, but she’s added to herself to a list of people who will be remembered for something more devastating.

He goes on to solicit complaints about her support for Planned Parenthood.  Which is just fine.  You go use that freedom of speech!

But remember that critical thing about free speech!  It swings both ways and Blume’s fans have decided to express their support of her stance.  You can find it on Twitter and Facebook.  Planned Parenthood said on Friday that Blume has received over 25,000 messages of support.  This compares to the 300 emails against Blume’s support.

Blume was one of those authors in my childhood that I read again and again.  My mother bought me my own copies of the books which was a big deal for a family living on a small teacher’s salary.  I started to list my favorite books of hers, but it became her bibliography.  I never did read Forever as a teen or preteen because by that point I was reading adult fiction.  Funny since now as an adult I read teen and children’s fiction!

Please add your voice of support for Blume, or your voice against her support if that’s how you feel.  Free speech and the freedom to read is what it’s all about.