GO GO GORILLAS
Author: Patrick Wensink
Illustrator: Nate Wragg
Data: Harper, $17.99; ages 4 to 8
Discover a literary explanation of why the gorillas always seem to be sleeping when you visit them at the zoo.
… They’re not as lazy as everyone thinks. These apes have a reason they need 40 winks. Wait until dark, when they think you can’t see. That’s when our apes get footloose and free.
Because it’s the end of the day, they eat a giant meal first, feasting on bunches of bananas and toasted marshmallows. Just about the time they finish eating, a zoo worker named Jungle Jed comes in and admonishes them to go to bed so they can entertain zoo visitors in the morning.
For a minute or more, it might look like they’re sleeping. But soon they’re unleashing the secret they’re keeping. Slowly and slyly, each slips from a bunk. Baby picks records of reggae and funk. This trend catches on as their toes give a wiggle. Their arms loosen up, and their hips start to jiggle. Now this is a party! The night of all nights! Mirror balls, DJs, and bright flashing lights.
The illustrations in this book reflect the rollicking pace of the rhymes. Rendered in jewel tones that stand out against the dark night, the pictures intrigue as much as the words do. The spotlight catches the apes doing all kinds of dancing including the tango, the Charleston and the fox-trot.
But Baby is old school: He does the robot!
As things really get swinging, Jungle Jed comes back and all the apes cower as he yells that they must get to bed to be fresh for the children that will visit by morning. Immediately following his visit, the apes seem to settle down.
Hey wait a minute … from the waltz to the polka, apes know every dance. Each time the clock chimes, they conga like ants.
So much for Jungle Jed’s protestations.
He returns yet again. It’s not giving away too much to let readers know that during his last-ditch effort to calm the crowd, the apes hold their breath while Jed shakes his fist and …
That shake spreads through his body. “Let’s all do the twist.” Jed chooses a partner. He calls out a tune. No wonder they love dancing under the moon. Jed wows the whole crowd with his feet oh so light, and they groove and they boogie away the whole night.
The secret dance goes on until the dawn breaks. In the end, the gorillas’ infectious delight is too much even for their keeper Jungle Jed. The book closes with this telling rhyme: See, you can’t blame gorillas for snoozing all day. They just don’t have pep left for smiling and play. Think twice if your tempted to pass them on by…Tonight they might need a partner your size.
Beware: The subtitle of this book, “A romping bedtime tale” is a little misleading. Reading this book, with its infectious rhymes and swinging plotline, will encourage a lot more dancing than it will snoozing. Instead, use “Go Go Gorillas” for as a prelude to afternoon playtime.
Author Patrick Wensick is the best-selling author of five books for adults. “Go Go Gorillas” is his first book for youngsters. Here’s hoping he does more.
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