Tuesday 20 June 2023

Little Lunch: The Monkey Bars

Little Lunch: The Monkey Bars by Danny Katz & Mitch Vane (Walker Books) Paperback, Junior Fiction RRP $14.99 9781760656782

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

The Little Lunch series has incredibly funny moments teamed with smart word choices that dance with line drawings and inky images.

Tamara Noodle rules the monkey bars, but Melanie Applebum has had enough and wants a turn. Tamara’s mean power is challenged in a monkey bar hang-off. Manny’s disgustingly smelly sandwiches cause his classmates to gag, and a beetroot disagreement causes chaotic scenes.  Dress-up day in The Shelter Shed causes costume anxiety for Battie when it doesn’t bring him superhero status and his fear of small dogs is exposed.

Danny Katz certainly has a funny way with words. His simplistic sentences have great reader impact and create many funny laugh out loud moments. Now get off the monkey bars, they’re mine, mine, mine.’ His writing is so child relatable, and who hasn’t met someone who won’t share? The dialogue has a big impact and shows many character traits and personalities. ‘I can also hang here all day if I have to.’ He cleverly shows psychology and how kids try and outsmart or outwit each other. Katz humour brings in those moments that kids find hilarious like vomit and beetroot stains and a kid scared of a small friendly dog might seem silly, but it really does happen. The dynamics of the playground antics and how kids interact together is well done. His words allow Mitch Vane to really ham up the story.

Mitch Vane’s line drawings with inky splashes are super engaging and enhance the text. His style reminds me of The Twits by Roald Dahl. Gross moments and the different playground personalities really shine with his illustrations. The book cover is not only fun but attractive to the intended readership who can relate to this story super well. I love how you can fold the cover out and the front illustration travels to the back cover. Who can’t relate to a spider being dangled behind someone? I really like that kids who are interested in drawing can have a go at copying Vane’s simplistic style that is so child relatable. The back of the book contains bonus material, like making a board game, dress-up instructions, monkey bar tricks, and smelly sandwiches.

Little Lunch: The Monkey Bars is an appealing junior fiction read for children 8-10 years who want to have a fun read. The child reader knows these sort of characters in their own school playground. This series showcases the best and worst of kids, always a winner. Psst! I heard that the Little Lunch Series are now also a television series which is sure to make the books even more popular.

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