by Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books
The original Monkey with a Tool Belt book by Chris Monroe came out in 2008, and I don’t think anyone who worked on that first book ever dreamed that twelve years later, we’d be on book #6 in the series and that there would be a show streaming on Netflix!
I certainly never dreamed that in the year 2020, I’d be the mother of a seven-year-old kid who thinks Chico Bon Bon is awesome–or that I’d have the great fortune to work with Chris Monroe as the editor of her newest book, Monkey with a Tool Belt Blasts Off! I thought it would be fun to interview my son and get some of his thoughts on both the new book and the show, so here we go…
Q: When Chico can’t solve a problem, he takes a banana break, and that helps him think of new solutions. Do you ever take a banana break?
A: No, because bananas are gross. I don’t like the taste. I’d rather take an apple break. No–a berry break. Because in the wild, chimpanzees eat lots of different small fruits.
Q: If you could change something about the book Monkey with a Tool Belt Blasts Off!, what would it be?
A: Once there’s a book party for it, you know once the book is really out, I want them to change it so that when [Chris Monroe] reads it, Chico is blasted off out of a cannon to get to outer space.
Q: Who is your favorite character in the Chico Bon Bon: Monkey with a Tool Belt show?
A: Tiny [a mouse character]. Because Tiny jumps onto a lock and then goes in and pushes the door open from the inside.
Q: What kinds of other adventures do you wish Chico and his friends will go on?
A: There were termites that started living in the treehouse and they had to get rid of them but there were so many and they had giant pincers.
A tree started growing in the treehouse except it wasn’t any ordinary tree. It was a tree that grew asteroids the size of trees with really strong branches so it took them so, so long to saw. Like first they tried hammering. Then they tried chopping. Then Chico took an apple break and then they started sawing with a superstrong saw that can cut through anything, but it took them an hour to do that but they they got rid of the tree.
And there you have it! You can check out all the books in the series here. For a recent conversation with author and illustrator Chris Monroe, check out this podcast. And for the story behind how Chico made the leap from page to screen, check out this article in Publishers Weekly. You can also learn about how the entire series came to be in this feature on Chris Monroe in Mpls.St Paul Mag.
Finally, if you’re interested in time traveling back to when the first Monkey with a Tool belt came out, check out this vintage review of the original Monkey with a Tool Belt book from librarian and blogger extraordinaire, Betsy Bird!