Round and round his clocklike tree, Monkey chases minutes in this tale about telling time.
Monkey slumbers away as orange, fruitlike balls happily march up his tree. When the first awakes him, their 60-minute game begins. Twelve branches create the tree-clock’s face, with Monkey in the middle. As the cheerful balls—embodied minutes—run the canopy’s circumference, Monkey’s arm sweeps clockwise, attempting to catch each cheeky sphere. After an hour, the minutes fly away—and 60 new merry minutes begin the game afresh. Colored or painted papers cut out and arranged to make forms create a style reminiscent of Eric Carle’s. But while Carle’s handmade collages mirror the natural, organic lessons of his text, Hall’s digital collage is used to teach precision and time—an apt match of technique and content. As always, Hall uses design to great effect, and the simple style allows readers to focus on the growing narrative of the accumulation of minutes. Playful, number-chart endpages and rhythmic, repetitive lines for reading aloud (“Chase me over. / Chase me down. / Chase me all the way around”) complete the fun.
Both simple and complex and always with humor: a worthy addition to the telling-time shelf. (Picture book. 4-8)
At first glance, this title seems to be about a monkey who tries to “catch a minute,” but it's actually a simple treatise on time for very young children as well as a counting book. A rain forest monkey sits in a tree that has 12 branches fanning out from a central hub, like the face of a clock.
Minutes are symbolized as small circles in varying colors of yellow and orange with stick legs and smiley “emoji” faces. The minutes taunt Monkey as he tries to catch one: “We are lightning fast, and you are a slowpoke.” After an hour of systematically circling the tree branches and lining up one by one, the minutes fly away, never to return. However, they are immediately replaced with lime-green minutes. Hall’s trademark painted and cut-paper illustrations in bright green, blue, red, and yellow with brown monkey in the center are striking.
In neighboring trees and on the ground, rain forest creatures are seen: a three-toed tree sloth slowly climbs among branches, a crimson finch egg hatches, and a chameleon uses his sticky tongue to catch a meal.
Information about these creatures and a page about measuring time appear at the end. This entertaining story will reinforce counting skills while teaching youngsters a bit about time.
School Library Journal
Monkey is hanging out in a tree in a tropical rainforest when he is challenged to try to catch a minute. Minutes are quick, minutes are elusive, and monkey just cannot seem to catch one—until 59 minutes have sped past Monkey and finally he is able to capture one! Hooray for Monkey! What will he do with a minute? What are you able to do with a minute? As a tool for teaching about time, the book makes it clear that a clock face is divided into five minute intervals. Although there are no numbers present, the illustrations are designed to encourage counting by fives or tens. Created in collage style, the shapes of the animals and scenery are bold and easily identifiable, and the bird’s-eye view of the tree graphically represents the clock face. The minutes are represented by small yellow dots with legs illustrating how quick and spunky they can be. Other rainforest animals appear, and the author provides a wonderful appendix teaching facts about habitat and behaviors. Also found in the back matter is a table that explains how time is measured. VERDICT A fun informational picture book introducing time to the very young; a good choice for most shelves.