Spunky and Dunky are two little monkeys in Africa, who are left orphaned when their parents are taken away by poachers. Luckily for them, when the kind-hearted Buddy Bear learns of their plight, he comes to rescue them and takes them home to live with him in Canada. But can the mischievous monkey pair learn to do what Buddy says in order to stay out of trouble, or will they miss out on the special treat he's promised them?
The Adventures of Spunky and Dunky and Buddy Bear: Rescued at Last is a cute story about two little monkeys who are left orphaned in Africa when poachers steal their parents and take them away, but a kind bear essentially adopts the brothers. Spunky and Dunky tend to be rather mischievous, but with the right incentive, they learn to reign in their curiosity. Buddy Bear is a big-hearted, father-figure to them as they embark on an adventurous trip to Canada to live with him.
Rescued at Last is part picture book, part early chapter book. The story itself will probably appeal more to younger children who will be able to relate to the rambunctious monkeys. There are plenty of cute, colorful illustrations, which effectively convey the little monkeys emotions and that I imagine will hold young readers' interest. However, the presence of some slightly more advanced vocabulary might make it difficult for independent reading. It is also broken up into short chapters of about 2-3 text pages each. In a few instances, the author takes the time to explain bigger words and place names that might be unfamiliar to kids by including a parenthetical sentence after the word. While I can't necessarily fault the author for giving the explanation, the way they were incorporated felt a bit awkward. The other thing that was a little odd for me was the author's choice to anthropomorphize a bear to act at the parental character rather than simply using a human character to look out for the monkeys (ala the man in the yellow hat from Curious George). I think if the story had been written this way, it would have been great, or if it had been just the animal characters with no humans involved, it would have been great. However, mixing the two together (humans act as background characters and the animals travel using human transportation) also felt a little awkward to me.
Despite my small issues with the execution of the story, I still enjoyed Rescued at Last, because it imparts several good messages for children. First, although it doesn't go into great detail about the poacher, I think there's just enough about this to possibly spark a child's interest in understanding and learning more about the problem of wild animals being poached. Next, it teaches kids to be kind and caring toward others. Buddy Bear is said to be a philanthropist who is always looking for someone to help, and he selflessly goes to Africa to find the orphaned Spunky and Dunky and bring them back to Canada to live with him. Although the word adopt isn't used to describe his act, that's essentially what he does, so this could be a great discussion starter about the topic of adoption. Lastly, the book teaches kids to think before they act. The two little monkeys are naturally curious and tend to get into trouble, but as the story progresses they eventually learn to think before doing something naughty. For these reason, I would definitely recommend, The Adventures of Spunky and Dunky and Buddy Bear: Rescued at Last. I'm not sure if the author has any plans to write more stories for this trio, but the title (even though it's a mouthful) seems to indicate that might be the case. If so, I'd be interested in seeing what other adventures are in store for Spunky, Dunky, and Buddy Bear.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author via the publicist Bostick Communications in exchange for an honest review.
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