Review Blog

Dec 20 2011

Monkey and Robot in the garden by Felix Hayes

cover image

Ill. by Hannah Broadway. Bloomsbury, 2011. ISBN 9781408806579.
When Monkey and Robot receive a mystery package of seeds in the post, Monkey plants the big, black stripey kind and Robot gets the little black dotty variety. Of course Monkey's plants grow the fastest and tallest, eventually producing the most impressive display of beautiful sunflowers. Robot's horticultural efforts are boring in comparison, with slow growing, unimpressive sprouts and no spectacular colours. This causes him to feel disappointed and less accomplished than his happy gardening partner.
In time, the pair discovers exactly what Robot's unknown plants are and they celebrate and enjoy them together. With assistance from the story teller, children will appreciate the lesson that we may often have to wait for rewards and indeed look below the surface to see some gifts. The notion that variety in life is important, that diverse achievements have independent value and promoting consumption of healthy food are also concepts which might be discussed.
The story does offer simplified gardening instructions for the readers to participate in similar activities to the characters. I know that seed planting definitely engages children who become very excited in the short term. The book also provides figurines and objects which can be pressed out to enable the readers to re-enact the story or create their own version. This was definitely a hit with a youngster I selected who was underwhelmed by the narrative but took great interest in the paper shapes.
Rob Welsh

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