2 out of 4 stars
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The Wonders of Monkey Mac by Stephanie Harris starts by sharing how Mac the chimpanzee arrived in America. After a harrowing, near-death stampede in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Julie, a scientist, took Mac to America to give him the best possible medical care. In fact, she brought him on an airplane and into her own laboratory despite the wishes of her boss. To Julie's amazement, Mac recovered. She continued to care for him and became to treat him as her own child.
Yet, danger was lurking around Julie and Mac. Julie's boss details his own brush with this danger when he was kidnapped with another chimpanzee to show Julie what she and Mac are up against. This danger doesn't even include the police. To avoid any issues, Mac moves into a zoo. However, Mac is not happy with this arrangement and plans to escape numerous times. He just wants to be back home with Julie. Will he be able to leave his troubles at the zoo behind and return to Julie? Will they be able to avoid trouble? These are for the reader to find out.
That said, I would have to give this book only 2 out of 4 stars. Let me explain. I think the idea behind this book is interesting, which is why I did not give this book one star. Truthfully, I quite enjoyed the idea behind the book. It has a lot of potential to develop into a unique adventure book with Mac and Julie running from evil, and the law at some points.
However, I had quite a few issues with this book. First and foremost, I believe this book needs another round of proofreading. There were grammatical errors throughout, though most of them were minor. Secondly, when I started the book, I felt like I was missing something. The first few chapters do give a backstory to some of the characters, but then it overlooks others. For example, the author mentions the character Babatunde but I couldn't figure out who this person was or their significance in the story. I thought that maybe this book was part of a series and I actually did miss something, but it is not from what I can tell. Additionally, as an adult, I was shocked by what the author included in this story. The first chapter shares Mac near-death experience, his nearly lifeless body, and a doctor recommending euthanasia. I was happy to see he recovered remarkably well but could not imagine having to explain some of this to my children.
In addition, there were moments that were not realistic. As this is a children's story and a book, I am aware that it will not be entirely based in reality. However, if someone, ape included, was to be trampled by a stampede of elephants, the likelihood of them recovering without even a minor injury and then going on to learn complex ideas is slim. Further, as a scientist, Julie labels Mac as a monkey. As a chimpanzee, he should be considered an ape, not a monkey. While some of these things seem minor, they culminated and influenced my enjoyment of the story.
Personally, I would not likely recommend this book to others for the above reasons. That said, older children may enjoy the book and Mac's adventures. For those who do choose to read this book, please note that there are religious undertones. Characters praise the Lord and pray to him at times. As some individuals may not enjoy these aspects, I felt it was worthy of note.
The Wonders of Monkey Mac
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