Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review: Maxwell the Monkey Barber by Cale Atkinson

by Cale Atkinson
Owlkids Books
Picture Book
ages 3 to 7
32 pages

Maxwell the monkey operates a barbershop, where he offers everything from a trim to a chop. He excels at helping his fellow animals look shipshape and feel their best, no matter how unruly their locks. Whatever the coiffure quandary, Maxwell is your monkey. He tames Baboon’s curls, styles Lion’s mane, and trims Bear’s beard, exclaiming each time: “Your hair’s the best I’ve seen today!”

All’s well until Elephant comes in, feeling sad because he has nohair. Can Maxwell help? Of course! After some careful thinking, he devises a solution to help even Elephant feel his best.

Cale Atkinson’s bright, cartoon-like digital illustrations beckon readers into Maxwell’s world in this playful tale. Rhyming text, speech bubbles, and a refrain make this story a fun read-aloud accessible to early readers. Full of personality and style, Maxwell has a genuine charm and enthusiasm for helping others that kids will find immediately contagious.

Grade Range: PreK–3
Fountas & Pinnell: J
Reading Recovery: 17
Lexile: AD 520L


There's no monkeying around with this barber because he has quite the job to do!

Maxwell is the jungle's barber, and it's his job to help all the other animals with their hair emergencies--a task he gladly fulfills. A snip and a snap, and he can tame the most wild mess, creating a perfect do. That is, until the elephant comes with a problem Maxwell hasn't encountered before.

Watching all the different animals march through Maxwell's shop is a joy in itself. The colorful illustrations capture the hairy fun in ways that is sure to make young readers giggle for glee. There are enough details to draw readers' attention time and again while still staying simple enough for even the younger listeners. The sneaky, growing pile of hair in the background adds a lovely dab of what might come without being overly obvious. And the antics catch the animals' personalities, making these pictures easy to flip through and get a story all on its own.

The vocabulary is very fitting for the age group and easy to read. Sticking to rhymes, the adventure takes on a cute atmosphere very fitting to the monkey antics. Sometimes the rhythm is off, which breaks the flow while reading the book aloud, but the story pulls through nicely, holding even more distracted listeners' attention.

It's a cute, fun read which draws in with the illustrations and is sure to leave a smile after seeing those wild hair styles.

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