Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Picture Book: Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Noisy Problem by Chris Monroe

Chico Bon Bon is awakened early one morning to a loud noise somewhere in his tree house.  He jumps out of his bed, straightens his tool belt, and ventures out to discover the origin of the sound.   Chico goes around his large home—checking in the bread box, under the floor boards, in the pool, under the stairs, and many other places.  At each location, he uses his handy tools to assist him in his inspection.   Next, the clever monkey ponders what might be making the noise.  Some of his ideas are realistic, such as a woodpecker family playing a trick on him or someone chopping a tree for firewood.  Others are more imaginative, such as a spacecraft landing on the roof or a monster.  Realizing the noise could be serious, he puts on his safety goggles and continues his hunt.  When he stops to throw his hankie down the laundry chute, the “arooga, boom, boom, clang, clang” noise is even louder!   He puts on his hard hat, gets out his flashlight, and peers down the dark chute.  Something is stuck there!  With some inventiveness (and, of course, his tool belt accessories), Chico solves the problem and makes a friend.  Read Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Noisy Problem to discover who or what is stuck!  

Author Chris Monroe has found a brilliant combination in a monkey and a tool belt.  The character, narrative, and pictures hold a lot of appeal for children, especially little boys.   Chico, the protagonist, demonstrates bravery, inventiveness, determination, and hospitality.  The story commences with a mystery which immediately pulls the reader in.   It is unpredictable and imaginative as it twists and turns through Chico’s investigation.   Finally, the illustrations are wonderful!   Pictures depict nearly all the action in an entertaining and creative manner.  Some of the highlights are a full examination of Chico’s tool belt and a two-page snapshot of his tree house.   I highly recommend Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Noisy Problem for ages 4-10. 

Teaching Opportunities:
·         Pause at key spots to ask the listeners to make predictions
·         Scramble the sequence of events that Chico goes through to clear the chute—they are numbered 1-12 on a two-page spread
·         Create an additional room for Chico’s tree house either two- or three-dimensional
·         Brainstorm alternate ways he could solve his problem
·         Compare and contrast Chico’s imaginative tool belt with a parent’s (or teacher’s) real tool belt
·         Discuss elements of fantasy and reality, such as possible causes of the noise
·         Identify onomatopoeia in the story and brainstorm other examples

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