"A third outing for friends Monkey and Robot spells all sorts of F-U-N. Catalanotto continues the series'usual formula: four stand-alone chapters peppered with the primate-machine odd couple's antics. In the first chapter, Monkey asks Robot which day he was born. Robot says, 'I was not born. I was built.' Since that 'built-day' happens to be the next day, Monkey brainstorms aloud his wildest party ideas. Cake! Cookies! Balloons! Surprises! Despite Robot's insistence that he doesn't want to celebrate, Robot eventually goes along with the plan—and maybe even feels as special as Monkey wants him to. Other chapters cover a visit from an 'ex-gladiator' (translation: exterminator), a birdsitting accident involving the neighbor's parakeet, and a giggly, messy human baby. Though all four chapters practically bounce with silliness, there's an overall groundedness that supports the overarching 'I can fix it' theme. Black-and-white illustrations carry the text's simple dialogue and occasional narration from panel to panel. On average, there are three or four panels per page. The few human side characters show some diversity in skin tone. Clothed, anthropomorphic Monkey's childlike innocence and curiosity are spot-on—if a bit too human for pure comfort. One notable scene touches briefly on transracial adoption when Monkey asks why mother Tina, who presents white, looks different from baby Zhen, who is Chinese. As delightful as any of the bounteous, monkey-filled books out there."—Kirkus Reviews—Journal
"Robot is responsible and helpful, while Monkey is energetic and spontaneous. The humor in this chapter book comes from the juxtaposition of the two friends and their approaches to life, as well as mix-ups about the meaning of words. Monkey thinks the pest control man will read to the mice because he has come to 'take care of them.' And when Robot says, 'Not a word,' Monkey winds up on the floor kicking his feet and holding his own mouth shut to keep from speaking. Young readers often are confused by phrases with multiple meanings and will sympathize, while also laughing at Monkey's mistakes. Along with the wordplay, the grayscale illustrations add depth and capture the expressive characters' actions. The limited number of panels per page and the scenes depicting familiar situations such as babysitting, caring for pets, or celebrating birthdays make this perfect for children learning to read or encountering graphic novels for the first time. The humor is gentle, and Monkey, along with readers, learns from every mistake. VERDICT Highly recommended for primary grades and newly independent readers."—School Library Journal—Journal
Using plays on words and humorous misunderstandings, Monkey & Robot tells stories that will delight the most reluctant reader. Catalanotto has created an unforgettable pair with the all-too-literal Monkey and the all-too-careful Robot.
Peter Catalanotto has written and illustrated 46 picture books, visited thousands of schools, and teaches children's book writing at Columbia University. He lives in New York City.
Peter Catalonotto has written and illustrated 46 picture books, visited thousands of schools, and teaches children's book writing at Columbia University. Monkey & Robot first appeared as an early reader.