When I was a child we didn’t ‘push the envelope’ or ‘test boundaries’, but sometimes we were naughty. And when we were, we were usually chastised for challenging authority. Children’s books reflected this view with a variety of cautionary tales, but luckily nowadays storytelling is not so dark.
In his bright and happy picturebook Maybe, Chris Haughton explores the behaviour of three little monkeys who go right ahead and do exactly what was forbidden. They escape a potentially nasty outcome by the (almost literal) skin of their teeth, but no way will readers be left in fear and trembling. Rather they will share in the monkey mischief and see how the monkeys made a silly and dangerous choice.
Chris Haughton’s award-winning illustrations with their vibrant blocks of colour and glove-puppet-character features allow the reader to fill in the emotion and enter fully into the story. His trademark animals are friendly, not fierce, and wonderfully expressive. The spare text moves across the page so a reader of any age can literally follow the movement of the story. As he says, children can ‘read without words’ and understand the story ‘just by looking at it’. And, for those
who do care about the moral value of teaching a lesson, the ending invites a gleeful prediction of ‘what do we think will happen next?’. This is a wonderful addition to the Chris Haughton collection of picturebooks – to be read and enjoyed with the very young.