“Baby Monkey, Private Eye,” offers more than meets the eye. This creative read by David Serlin is short on words but long on entertainment. The story is told with just a few words on each page, in large fonts, but detailed drawings by Brian Selznick hold hidden meaning.
The book begins with an explanation of who Baby Monkey is: “He is a baby.” “He is a monkey.” “He has a job . . .”
And a very important one — trying to uncover the perpetrator stealing items from a variety of victims. The first case involves an opera singer’s missing jewels. Baby Monkey lies in his office reading “Famous Jewel Crimes” when an opera singer shows up at his door. The walls of his office are decorated with photographs and his desktop displays interesting objects.
After assuring the opera singer he can help her, Baby Monkey “looks for clues . . . writes notes . . . eats a snack, and puts on his pants, a complicated fiasco that makes him tip over. With an “aha,” Baby Monkey nails Zebra with the crime.
The next chapter centers on the Case of the Missing Pizza. Once again, Monkey reclines in his office, this time reading “Famous Pizza Crimes.” The decorations in the office have changed reflecting the case he’s going to investigate — a map of Italy hangs near the door, as well as a picture of the Mona Lisa.
Baby Monkey enjoys success again with the case, as he does with the rest, each scenario progressing as the one before it, the same office scene but with different objects displayed, Little Monkey going through the same steps to crack each case, until the last one, which involves a missing baby, in a book that wraps up with a sweet “ahhh . . . ” rather than an “aha.”
“Baby Monkey, Private Eye” will appeal to lap-sitters because of its simple story, but older readers are sure to be amused too, a key in the back of the book explaining the objects pictured in each case. Ages 4-8.