Listening by Lisa Kerr

cover image

Cheeky Monkey manners. The Five Mile Press, 2016. ISBN 9781760402679
(Ages: 2-5) This is another in the Cheeky Monkey manners series (Please, Thank you, Sorry, Excuse me) and one of many in the Cheeky Monkey series. The small board book format is suited to preschool and early childhood and is a fun way to springboard discussions about manners - what they are, and when to use them. As with the other Cheeky Monkey books, the colourful illustrations are visually appealing and large without great amounts of detail; Cheeky Monkey is the main element on each page with a secondary focus on the other animals and their facial expressions. There are, however, many additional small animals (frogs, birds, mice, butterflies, etc.) which will enable younger children to retain focus, give them things to search for and foster discussions about the illustrations.
Cheeky Monkey is not really cheeky; he just hasn't learned how to listen properly yet. When his mother asks him to listen carefully and fetch some things from the shop, Cheeky Monkey only really hears the 'buy yourself a little treat' part. Needless to say, he ends up bringing his mother all the wrong things and has to go back to the store without his treat. Cheeky Monkey promises to listen more carefully in the future. Social skills books such as these can often be overly didactic, but this one is understanding of children and of how hard it is to listen properly. It lets them know that it is okay to have trouble listening sometimes, but highlights the importance of trying hard. It also maintains a sense of fun and children will giggle about what Cheeky Monkey mistakenly brings back for his mum! The text manages to successfully tell an engaging story, get a message across and remain concise. With only five double-page spreads this book will keep young readers interested until the very end. Overall, it is a fun, simple way to introduce the idea of taking turns and learn some strategies for how to listen.
Nicole Smith-Forrest