Never Smile at a Monkey

Never Smile at a Monkey by Steve Jenkins

Jenkins of the amazing paper art illustrations returns with a book dedicated to animals that may not seem dangerous.  The problem is, you do have to know the tricks of how to avoid danger with them.  Some of the animals in the book are surprisingly dangerous.  The cone shell will make you never look at sea shells the same way again.  Then you have the obviously dangerous animals like the spitting cobra and you get tips to deal with an encounter with them.  Turning each page is a delight as you get a surprise each time and then the treat of wondering what in the world the danger could be.  Great fun.

Jenkins is best known for his art.  Here it is as gorgeous as one has come to expect.  He manages to create tangible fur from paper, eyes that really seem to see, and somehow loses that flat paper feel of most collage.  One forgets it is art and starts to think of it as photography.  Jenkins also excels at writing informational paragraphs about the animals.  They are short, fascinating and here they are filled with adventure too. 

Highly recommended, this book belongs on all public and school library shelves.  A great science picture book with a great hook, this book is appropriate for ages 6-10.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by A Year of Reading, TheBookNosher, A Patchwork of Books, and Fuse #8.

The Book That Eats People

The Book That Eats People by John Perry, illustrated by Mark Fearing

This is a book that eats people.  Listen closely for growling while you read it, because that means it is hungry.  If you do hear growling, put it down immediately and set something heavy on it.  Sammy Ruskin was the first person this book ate after it got a taste of the peanut butter on his fingers.  The book next ate a library security guard after being trapped in the library for some time.  Then it disguised itself by using the wrapper from All About Dolphins and was taken home by Victoria Glassford,who was eaten that night.  After eating several more people, the book was locked in jail and chained.  They tried to reform it in the zoo, but it didn’t work.  Now you have the book in your hands.  Beware!

Broadly humorous and definitely dark, this book is ideal for older elementary school readers and for younger children who love that certain shudder with their giggles.  Perry’s language is great fun, filled with dire warnings and taking great glee in describing the book’s killing spree.  Perry writes with great flair that really works for this sort of book.  His comedy is unsubtle and lots of fun.  Fearing’s collage art is also a lot of fun.  His use of deep shadows, dark corners is lightened by the pastels and colors of the unsuspecting.  It works to great effect here.

Highly recommended for children who enjoy a dark deep chuckle with their humor.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Featured on 7 Imp.