Monkey Truck by Michael Slack

Lynn: The youngest member of our focus group is now 16 months old and clearly a straight shot down the genetic tree because he loves books.  His morning routine involves dragging out one book after another to be read.  He has good taste too, The Very Busy Spider and The Very Hungry Caterpillar being among his favorites.  One book, however, has reigned supreme for Henry ever since I gave it to him last spring and that is Monkey Truck (Holt 2011).

Monkey Truck is a crazy squished together amalgam of monkey and truck who charges through the jungle to rescue whoever is in trouble:  chameleons about to be trampled, turtles who need to cross a chasm or stuck hippos.  “Go Monkey Truck!”  The whacky digitally painted illustrations race across durable pages that have stood up to countless rough page turns.  The story reads aloud wonderfully with plenty of sound effects.  Monkey Truck runs on banana gas – need I say more?

This book has had extensive toddler testing and not just from Henry.  The book went along with him to a 2-year-old’s birthday party recently and every little one there demanded a turn when it was discovered in the diaper bag.  A lot of soggy thumbs are raised up high for this engaging book.  Go Monkey Truck!

Cindy: I can see the appeal for this book. The facial expressions alone are worth the price of admission! I can hear the peals of laughter over the banana gas “tooting.” I love the small details in the illustrations like the jungle vine tow rope on the spool at Monkey Truck’s back end. Vroom! Vroom! Swoosh! OO! EEE! OOO! AAAH!

I had to see more of Michael Slack’s work so I followed the link listed on the back cover to his Slackart website. I learned that he wanted to be Eddie Munster as a child and have a pet Creature from the Black Lagoon. I also learned….drum roll please…that Henry will be delighted to know that there is a sequel, Elecopter, in the works! He also designed artwork for the California School Library Association’s Campaign for Strong School Libraries. I think I found the cover I need for my new iPhone! Read, Know, Grow! You can see this and all the items available for purchase with this artwork at Cafe Press.

The one bit of news I did not find on his website was the answer to the mysterious book dedication:

“To Stephanie–my heart, my happiness, the love of my life, W.Y.M.M.?”

I’m assuming this was a proposal…the first I’ve ever seen in a book dedication. If so…I hope you got the answer you wanted Michael!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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