3 out of 4 stars
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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a pet monkey? In OK by Taylor Platelle, a green monkey (Chlorocebus sabaeus) named Ok escapes from the zoo and befriends Edgar, a nine-year-old boy. Over the course of several months, they travel around the world and get into all sorts of mischief. Their friendship blossoms as Edgar cares for Ok by bringing fruits and vegetables to feed him, but keeping a secret this big will be difficult. Edgar tries to hide the monkey from his parents, but will they find out about Ok? If they do, will they allow Edgar to keep him?
Alex Crump’s cover art gives readers a glimpse at the other illustrations they will see while reading this delightful children’s chapter book. The detailed drawings complement the text nicely. The tale is told from Ok’s perspective as he learns about the world around him with Edgar as his protector and guide. The narrative is written in British English as evidenced by the use of phrases and words like “best mates” instead of “best friends” and “trainers” instead of “sneakers.” The themes of the story include tourism, cultural diversity, history, astronomy, imagination, and friendship. As a children’s book, there is no foul language or violence. There is also no religious content.
In addition to Ok and Edgar, Edgar’s parents are the other main characters. Edgar’s mother, Suzie, has Barbadian ancestry and seems to be a homemaker. Edgar’s father, Edward, is a successful businessman with Scottish roots. They are both kind, supportive people, and they try to give their son the best opportunities. As the result of their interracial marriage, Edgar is a mixed-race child. As a Caribbean person with a multiracial heritage, I appreciate the depiction of this modern family. I also like the values expressed by presenting a nuclear family.
There were many other aspects I enjoyed while reading this story. Edgar reminded me of myself because he likes the space sciences, and I liked astronomy at his age. He has a vivid imagination, and he dreams of becoming an astronaut when he grows up. The story was thoroughly entertaining, and I found myself gasping and laughing at all of Ok’s antics. Young readers will learn about different cultures and World War II history as the characters tour other countries. Because the text included advanced vocabulary words, such as “forlorn” and “steeple,” children can take the opportunity to learn even more.
However, there were a few issues that I must mention. First of all, the font size was very small, and there was no zoom feature in the Kindle format that I read. I had to squint and use a magnifying glass to read the book. Second, there was a scene in the story where Edgar and his parents attended a cabaret show. Even though the suggestive details were omitted, I felt that this form of entertainment was inappropriate for children. The ending was a bit confusing and had me wondering if the monkeys knew how to speak or do sign language. I also found ten errors, including a factual error, misspelled words, and punctuation mistakes. The sentences were a bit long and complex, so they could have been shortened for clarity.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed this story very much, and the positives outweighed the negatives. OK by Taylor Platelle deserves a rating of no less than three out of four stars. If the errors are fixed, this book could earn a perfect score. I recommend it to children who can read fairly well or to parents who are looking for a fun and educational story to read to their children. Animal lovers will also enjoy this book.
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