Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Baby Monkey, Private Eye

It turns out that rubbing elbows with successful artists at fancy schmancy shindigs has its advantages. On Christmas Day, I met the creators of one of my recent children's book obsessions - Baby Monkey, Private Eye - at Tony Award nominee and drag legend Charles Busch's holiday soiree. His beautiful apartment has been featured in several newspapers, including the prestigious New York Times, and Charles is a host on par with Auntie Mame.

After navigating my way through the throngs of well-known show folk I settled myself on the lush sofa and struck up a conversation with the man in the chair beside me. His name was David Serlin. We bonded over academia (we both have PhDs), issues in deaf education (he works alongside esteemed scholar Carol Padden at UC San Diego), American Sign Language and books.

At one point he mentioned Brian Selznick, whom I immediately recognized when I entered the lipstick red living room. I'd met Brian years before when he visited my classroom while researching Wonderstruck, but I only have a vague recollection of it. David reintroduced us and soon the three of us were chatting about their children's book Baby Monkey, Private Eye.

With Brian Selznick (center) and David Serlin (right)

I bought this book as soon as it came out and it was - and is - a huge hit with my students. Brian's illustrations are exquisite and the story holds a young child's interest. It is a thick chapter book, which is unusual for a book targeting beginning readers. It only has something like 52 words and they appear in a predictable pattern with strong picture support. My preschool students take great pride in reading this book. I enjoy the fact that it has an index, a bibliography, and lots of small details encouraging repeated readings.

David told me he would send me a Baby Monkey, Private Eye poster when he got back to California. It arrived yesterday. He actually sent two - one for my classroom and one for the school library - both signed (see above).

I can't wait to get it framed and proudly display it in my classroom.

Thank you, David!

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