Children's Literature Bookshelf

“Baby Monkey, Private Eye,” by Brian Selznick and David Serlin. Scholastic Press, New York, 2018, 191 pages, Grades 1-3.

“Baby Monkey, Private Eye,” by Brian Selznick and David Serlin.
Scholastic Press, New York, 2018, 191 pages, Grades 1-3.

Graphic novels are books written with extensive illustration and pictures. Though graphic novels have now reached the fields of adult literature, they are particularly helpful for younger children just learning to read. The reason for this is that primary school students are just learning to master the alphabet and the procedures necessary to successfully read. The text in graphic novels is particularly important since the books are mostly drawings.

Brian Selznick and David Serlin have created a delightful graphic novel for children in Grades 1-3. The name of this humorous book is “Baby Monkey, Private Eye.”

Lying in his office, Baby Monkey is studying different types of crime. There are jewel thefts, pizza crimes, astronaut felonies, circus misdeeds and other transgressions. As Baby Monkey lies on his couch, he prepares for frightened victims appearing in the office asking for his assistance. Soon, an excited opera star appears seeking his help. Someone has stolen her jewels. Since her next performance is soon, she is beside herself. How can she possibly sing without part of her costume?

Baby Monkey swings into action. First, he looks for clues.  Second, Baby Monkey writes a series of notes based on his findings and readings of past cases. Third, he eats a snack to get ready for sleuthing out the clues.

Fourth, Baby Monkey puts on his pants. This is particularly difficult for him since he is a baby. He puts the pants on the wrong leg, then loses his balance and falls down, before finally getting both of his legs in the pants. After this heroic effort, Baby Monkey is ready to leave the office and look for clues. Taking his magnifying glass, he quickly finds a crime trail.

Soon, Baby Monkey has found the guilty party. A zebra has stolen the jewels. The opera star is jubilant and the newspaper soon publishes the event in a headline. In her appreciation, the opera star breaks into a powerful aria. Having taken care of this problem, Baby Monkey returns to his office. There can be no rest however, because crimes continue to take place. Lying on his office sofa, Baby Monkey begins studying additional crimes. These seem to revolve around pizza theft. A frantic knock on the door signals the approach of a new case. A frantic Italian chef tells Baby Monkey that a pizza has been stolen and begs for his assistance in finding the thief. Baby Monkey confidently takes the case looking for clues while he struggles to put on his pants. What happens?

Does Baby Monkey find the missing pizza? Do the crime magazines and books help Baby Monkey solve the crimes? Does he always eat a snack because he is a baby? Where is his mother during this time? How is she part of the biggest crime Baby Monkey solves? To find out the answers to these and other questions, go to the library and check out this delightful graphic novel, “Baby Monkey, Private Eye.”

First- and second-graders will find this book hilarious. Baby Monkey’s antics will keep readers laughing. Young children will identify with his attempts to do grown up things while still needing to be protected by their parents. If you want to have an enjoyable time while sharing a book with the younger members of your family, this is it. Enjoy!

Terrence Nollen




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