Review of Maybe...

by Chris Haughton; illus. by the author
Preschool    Candlewick    40 pp.    g
9/21    978-1-5362-2024-7    $17.99

A grown-up monkey heads into the jungle, leaving three small monkeys up high in a tree. “Now remember…Whatever you do, do NOT go down to the mango tree. There are tigers down there.” You know what happens. Temptation beckons, and the little monkeys do exactly what they’ve been told not to do: “…maybe we could just look at the mangoes.” Preschool audiences will love the delicious tension as looking becomes “…maybe we could just get that little one” and then “I wish we had another one…” The monkeys don’t notice any danger — but viewers undoubtedly will spy first one, then two, then three tigers partially hidden in the shadowy underbrush. The direct, all-dialogue text invites participation. “That’d be okay, right?” the monkeys ask after each ill-advised decision. Haughton’s (Don’t Worry, Little Crab, rev. 3/20, and others) digital illustrations, with their blocks of saturated color, are perfect for group sharing. Deep pink, magenta, purple, and blue tree silhouettes are set against a vibrant red sky; the wide-eyed blue monkeys pop off the page, focusing viewers’ attention on their actions and expressions. Haughton’s skilled use of color, composition, and page-turns heightens the drama. The orange tigers burst out of hiding, and an intense chase ensues (“RUN!!!”) over three double-page spreads. The third spread is oriented vertically, emphasizing the monkeys’ narrow escape (really narrow — with one’s foot in the open jaws of a tiger!) as they clamber back up into the canopy. By book’s end it seems they’ve learned their lesson…or have they?

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Kitty Flynn
Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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