Count the Monkeys, a new picture book by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Kevin Cornell, is right up my alley. Right up my goofy, silly-sense-of-humor alley, that is. Right from the title page we're invited to count the monkeys in the book. However, upon turning to the first page, we find NO MONKEYS. 1 king cobra has scared them off. When we quietly (so as not to draw the cobra's attention) turn the page to see if the monkeys are there, we are confronted with 2 mongooses (or is it mongeese?) who have chased away the cobra. The story continues in a similar fashion, with various non-primate animals scaring each other away. We have to zig zag our hands, roar, and shout "SCRAM!" in order to be able to turn the page and cross our fingers that we will FINALLY get to count the monkeys. But will the monkeys ever appear?
This is a silly, engaging, active story that'll be great to share with your preschool-aged children. They can participate in the story by doing the motions described, and helping to count the animals. It will also be fun to anticipate what will happen on the next page - will the monkeys be there, or will another creature have scared them off? After reading, you might try inventing your own cumulative counting story. Ask your child to draw 1 item, then two, then three, etc., while you add the words that they tell you to the page. Telling stories is an important pre-reading skill to develop and helps grow a child's imagination, while drawing is a good way to start building the muscles needed for writing!