Marc Brown‘s Monkey Not Ready for the Baby (2016, Alfred A. Knopf) is the latest in the I-don’t-want-a-sibling collection of children’s picture books. Baby brothers and sisters sure do get the short end of the stick in these books, but I wouldn’t know. I’m the Big Sister myself.
In fine colored pencil illustration style, Brown tells the story of Monkey whose day starts out bad and only gets worse when he learns he is going to lose his status as the baby of the family. His fears only intensifies as the only thing he sees when he’s outside are babies and more babies. But after Monkey’s mother does not like the picture he draws of the baby being sent off to outer space, he learns to accept (slowly) the idea of being a big brother to a new little sister.
So I must say I wanted more from Monkey Not Ready for the Baby. There are so many books about young children’s anxieties about having a new sibling that it is challenging to tell a similar story from a fresh perspective. And I just don’t think this one does. It does not distinguish itself from other books about this topic.
I do like the direct quotes in the book and think these reflect accurately the thoughts and words of siblings anticipating a baby brother or sister. There is a strong narrative voice, and the book has a pace that will appeal to younger readers. I also love the artistic presentation of Monkey Not Ready for the Baby. Brown’s detailed pencil drawings compensate for the lack of plot originality. I love the detail of the cell phone and cell phone charge as Monkey helps his mom pack for the hospital, and I especially love the “I like being a little brother” illustration.
In short, is this a quality children’s book? Sure. Does it bring a new perspective to a hackneyed topic in children’s literature? No.
Let me know what you think of Monkey Note Ready for the Baby in the comments below!