Wednesday, May 25, 2011

LOOKING FOR THE EASY LIFE by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Lee Harper

Lexile:    750          Pages:    36          Ages:     5-8
AR Quiz No. 142983 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 3.9 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

The monkeys on Monkey Island have life pretty good. They sit around most of the day talking and dreaming. Uh-Huh Freddie is the Chief Monkey and he works hard to make sure that everyone has a good life. The monkeys on the island are happy except for Oswego Pete, who wants the Easy Life where he never has to do any hard work. He talks the other monkeys into going with him to find it.

First they look on the Big-Grrs Plains where the lions sleep all day, because Oswego Pete says he's never seen a lion doing any hard work. But when they get there they are nearly eaten by a lion, with Pete losing part of his tail to the lion.

Next they go to the seashore because fish have it easy - all they do is float around doing nothing and opening their mouths when they want to eat and eating whatever floats in. Things are good at first; the monkeys are swimming and having fun until a shark appears. Oswego Pete says, "Hey, Shark, what you want with your beady-eyed self? And how come you ain't got no lips?" to which the shark replies, "'Cause I don't want nothing between me and my lunch!" Again, the monkeys escape with their lives, but Oswego Pete loses yet another piece of his tail. He says, "We need to find someplace where they living the Easy Life and don't eat monkeys."

They find that place with the hippos in Hip-Hop Haven where all they have to do is ride on the hippos' backs and hold an umbrella so the sun doesn't get in the hippos' eyes, and they can have all the food they want from the Hip-Hop Hippo restaurant. In the beginning this seems okay - they are living the Easy Life. But soon they tire of it. They are bored, they don't like the food, and they miss their home in the trees. Uh-Huh Freddie says, "I'm going back home." The other monkeys agree and they all pack up and head home to the San Banana Valley where Freddie declares, "Easy ain't always good, and a little work ain't always bad!" and all the other monkeys agree with him and re-elect him as the Chief Monkey.

I love the message in this story. Too often we want easy money or have a misguided sense of entitlement. Children need to learn that nothing comes free and that you have to work for what you want, sometimes doing things you don't like in order to achieve your goal. Or that something may be easier, but it's not necessarily you'Easy Life gets this across in a fun and humorous way. When Shark wants Oswego Pete to come back into the water to discuss getting back the piece of tail Shark has bitten off, Pete "just gave that shark a hard look and flicked a booger at him." Kind of gross, but kids tend to really like gross stuff. You can always talk to them about the evils of booger-flicking. : )

Lee Harper's illustrations are wonderful! They are extremely colorful and perfectly express the beauty found on tropical islands. Each monkey is drawn so that children should be able to easily put them together with their names.

Have some fun with Uh-Huh Freddie and Oswego Pete today! Get your copy of Looking for the Easy Life at the Lake County Public Library or click here to reserve a copy for *EASY* pick-up : ) at your favorite branch.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

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