Monday, July 9, 2012

The Children's Corner: Picture Book Review: Mike Monkey Has 5 Bananas by Richard Garrett Dews

Mike Monkey Has 5 Bananas
Words by Richard Garrett Dews
Illustrated by Toby Mikle
Published by CreateSpace
Published in 2012
28 Pages
Ages Pre-K through K

What’s more fun than monkeys, bananas, and singing? Mike Monkey Has 5 Bananas, a new pre-K and Kindergarten children’s book from Richard, helps young readers learn to count down from (and up to) 5. Kids pick up the catchy tune almost instantly, and the book’s many happy lessons seem to happen without effort!

The sing-along song was created first, before the book, and sheet music is included on the book’s last page. An MP3 instrumental version is available, from online music retailers, to lead and support young singers. It’s great background music (or a lullaby) when looped!

A line or two: 
Mike Monkey has 5 Bananas. He picked the ripe ones yesterday.

I saw him in the trees, giving some a squeeze, but they're still too green today.

My Thoughts:

I've had this book for a few weeks now and have got to know it a bit, first through my own read and then with my daughter. 

Mike Monkey Has 5 Bananas is a children's picture book but it reads a little like a song, probably because that's what it was before it was turned into a book. At first it seemed a little nonsensical until I realised this. First Mike Monkey has ripe bananas and then the next page the bananas are too green. None of that made sense to me until I looked more closely at the pictures and read through the entire story. I guess Mike Monkey is reminiscing about his bunch of bananas he picked yesterday and how he ate them all, one by one. Today, the bananas are too green and he has to wait until they are ready for eating.

My daughter really enjoyed this book and I must say I had much more fun reading it to her than I did reading it to myself. I found myself explaining things to her that I have never had the chance to before. For example, how bananas are green when they start out and slowly turn yellow or how they grow on trees. Also, I had fun sharing with her how if you eat one banana out of five, you only have four left. At least, I tried, and it's a start.

She also had lots of fun counting the bananas as Mike Monkey ate them. First, she counted just the bananas that were in his hands and then I pointed out the banana peels on the ground and she had fun with that too. I think this book is a great introduction to children pre-kindergarden for understanding how subtraction works. It's a little bit like the 5 monkey's jumping on the bed, except instead of jumping on a bed, there is one monkey eating bananas.

I also appreciated that in every picture there is another animal besides Mike Monkey. It wasn't necessary to the words of the story to include them but it made every turn of the page just a little more interesting. My only problem with the illustrations was that I wanted the colours a little more defined, a darker outline for the different plants or elements would have helped since there were so many green plants in the pictures.

I like the interactive quality to the book too. I was sent a copy of Mike Monkey Has 5 Bananas (A coloring book) to go along with the picture book. It is a great concept for children to read the book and then to be able to colour the same pictures that they were just looking at. My daughter hasn't started colouring in it yet but I know she will love it. I also liked that the book came with the sheet music to the song. But I didn't like that Amazon would not let me get the mp3 because of my location. She actually begged me to hear the song, but unfortunately that was out of the question. Now I just need a piano and someone to interpret this sheet music for me...:)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

You can purchase Mike Monkey Has 5 Bananas in paperback and Kindle  and coloring book formats from Amazon. There is also an MP3 of the song and ringtone available to US customers through Amazon.
A fun touch - You can also watch the making of the illustrations for this book on Youtube!

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