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Reviewed by JB McPherson for Readers' Favorite
Beautifully illustrated, The Adventures of Gracie and MonkeyBear - Book 1: Summer revels in the imagination and the marvels of childhood. The narrative is by C.S. O’Kelly and illustrations are by Jordy Farrell. Together they create a delightful book. Gracie and MonkeyBear (her dog) share adventures sparked by places in her backyard. A mound of dirt becomes a dinosaur excavation site, a tree becomes a landing site for an alien, and the kiddie pool becomes the habitat of a mother whale trying to save her child from an ensnaring net. Gracie and MonkeyBear rise to every occasion, even freeing a live dinosaur and speaking to an alien (in alien language!). Only when the sun sets do they hear Grandma’s voice calling them home for dinner.
The magic of The Adventures of Gracie and MonkeyBear resides in the clever combination of text and illustrations. Often the illustration picks up where the story pauses, and vice versa. This element allows the child reader to supply the imagination to fuel the narrative. The creators dedicate the book thus: “For all the girls in all the worlds: May you feel strength with your first breath, realize your unlimited potential for greatness on your second, and follow your dreams on your third.”
Despite the girl protagonist and dedication, this book will appeal to boys as well. MonkeyBear the dog provides humorous moments when his enigmatic barks are completely understood by Gracie. All children will relate to the need to include snacks in any invention, and brushes with dinosaurs and aliens draw everyone into the excitement. O’Kelly and Farrell have created a rollicking adventure of imagination! A wonderful book!