________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 18 . . . . January 16, 2015


Monkey World ABC.

Matthew Porter.
Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books, 2012.
26 pp., board, $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-927018-07-1.

Subject Headings:
Monkeys-Juvenile literature.
Alphabet books.

Preschool-kindergarten / Ages 2-5.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4




Bass Player

First as a parent, and now as a grandparent, I've found it amazing to watch (listen to?) my children and grandchildren transform themselves from audibly wordless beings into little "word sound machines" as their spoken vocabularies suddenly seem to explode. Though Monkey World ABC's format is that of a board book, it is definitely not a "first" book for the toddler set. Instead, its introduction should likely wait until a child has a foundational vocabulary, one to which you as a parent or caregiver wish to assist the child in expanding.

      Calling itself "An A to Z of occupations", Monkey World ABC's contents simply consist of full-colour illustrations of 26 "costumed" monkeys, each representing a "job" whose name begins with one of the letters of the alphabet. The text is limited to the one or two words that are needed to identify each monkey's job, with the targeted letter presented in colour and in upper case.

      The occupations Porter offers range from those the children's parents or neighbours could possibly occupy, such as "Chef", "Janitor", and "Yoga Instructor", to the much more fanciful, like "King", "Lion Tamer", "Pirate', "Queen" "Snake Charmer" and "Wrestler." A child's vocabulary will not always necessarily match the word(s) Porter has used in his job labels. For example, I can see a child substituting "Cook" for Porter's '"Chef" or "Super Hero" for his "Wrestler". For me (and likely the book's intended audience), the hardest occupation to identify via just the "uniformed" monkey was "Engine Driver". Given that the Monkey is wearing blue bib overalls and is holding a pocket watch and a shovel, I concluded that he's probably part of a railway train crew from the days of steam locomotives. (Time for a history lesson?)

      Overall, Monkey World ABC is a worthy home or library purchase, but it does have one small fault. Though Porter employs gender neutral terms, such as "Firefighter" and [Police] "Officer", in the naming of occupations, it is not until the eight letter, "H", that youngsters will see their first female monkey, and then it is a "Hula Hooper". In total, only eight of the illustrations reveal the job-holder to be female. Should there be a revised edition of Monkey World ABC, Porter could correct this gender imbalance.


Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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