Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake & Mr. Monkey Visits a School by Jeff Mack, 64 pp, RL 1.5

Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake 
& Mr. Monkey Visits a School 
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Purchased from Permabound (for my school library)
I am always looking for the next book series that will grab my first graders and get them reading the way Elephant & Piggie does. The manic humor of Mo Willems's mismatched friends is hard to beat, but in Mack's creation of Mr. Monkey, he does a fantastic job, even as a solo star. In Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake, (Book # 🍌, Book #🍌🍌🍌 comes out in April of this year) Mr. Monkey bakes a banana cake. As he bakes, he eats so many bananas that he is not hungry for his cake. When a message for a cake contest pops up on his computer screen, a new plan emerges! Popping a banana for later in his pocket and heading out the door with his cake, Mr. Monkey walks to the contest, cake in hand. Over the next several pages, one thing after another threatens to thwart Mr. Monkey's plans. As readers anticipate Mr. Monkey - or someone - getting a cake in the face, a parade of cars (and cakes) worthy of a Richard Scarry spread head to the contest. From angry birds, to angry dogs and even an irate gorilla, Mr. Monkey and his cake continue to make their way to the cake show. Sadly, Mr. Monkey arrives at the show too late to get a ribbon, but he does get to see all the winners. Unfortunately, an angry character from his past finds him and the chaos readers were waiting for finally erupts. Mack brings his story to a close with a surprising and sweet ending, just like Mr. Monkey himself! While Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake is on the longer side, the words on each page are few and there are roughly 90 vocabulary words used in the text.

In Mr. Monkey Visits a School, a newly learned juggling trick gets our hero an invitation (from the librarian herself) to visit a school! As the book begins, you get the feeling that, a minute or two earlier, Mr. Monkey has opened a cluttered closet and everything has fallen out on him. Rather than be buried by the variety of things, Mr. Monkey juggles them! As with Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake, the journey is the story. As he makes his way to the school to share his new trick, minor challenges cause him to use the umbrella, tennis rackets, and suitcase in a number of ways to save the day. After being introduced to all the important leaders at the school (gym teacher, principal, librarian) he takes the stage in front of all the kids, empty handed. Another crazy ending proves to also be a happy ending for Mr. Monkey. I can't WAIT to read Mr. Monkey Takes a Hike!

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