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Monkey’s Big Adventures: Afloat in Venice by Tina Wilson

Title: Monkey’s Big Adventures: Afloat in Venice

An image  of a canal surrounded by buildings with gondolas. A toy monkey in knitted purple oants with a knitted bag and knitted camera, next to a knitted mouse looks out over Venice. The title is Afloat in Venice by Tina Wilson. It is accompanied by a CD with music by Matt Ottley.

Author: Tina Wilson

Genre: Travel, Friendship, Adventure

Publisher: One Tentacle Publishing

Published: 1st September 2021

Format: Hardcover and Audio

Pages: 40

Price: $27.95

Synopsis: ABOUT THE SERIES

Imaginative, nostalgic and quirky, the Monkey’s Great Adventures series, with bespoke hand-knitted toys, is beautifully photographed in locations around the world and captures the innocence of childhood. Monkey, an endearing soft toy, finds himself in all sorts of scrapes where he learns about himself and the world around him. In this first book, Afloat in Venice, Monkey is entranced by a “magical floating city that seems to grow straight out of the sea.” The book includes original music composed by highly acclaimed artist, Matt Ottley, with text narrated by the author. There is an additional version of the music specifically narrated for the visually impaired.

In Monkey’s first adventure, Afloat in Venice, Monkey wakes to find he has been given a brand new camera. He can’t wait to use it during his holiday in Venice … but after he is separated from his camera and he becomes lost, he discovers something more precious than sightseeing.

Monkey, an endearing soft toy, finds himself in all sorts of scrapes where he learns about himself and the world around him. In this first book in the Monkey’s Great Adventure series, Afloat in Venice, Monkey is entranced by a “magical floating city that seems to grow straight out of the sea.”

This book includes original music composed by the highly acclaimed, Matt Ottley and an additional version specifically narrated for the visually impaired.

Heart-warming and unique, this series brilliantly captures the innocence of childhood and will be enjoyed by all ages.

~*~

Most books come in one or more formats individually, but not always together. This means that stories of all kinds can be accessed, however, we often have to choose between print, audio and ebook, depending on our needs. The book I have just read – Afloat in Venice by Tina Wilson, does things a little differently. There’s the lovely hardcover book, where the story uses speech bubbles, Tina’s photographs of toys in Venice, and lines of text where needed, but it comes with a CD with two tracks: Track one is the story as it is in the book, and track two is for independent listening, as it has a few additions to the text to describe the images and what is happening in story form.

This allows for three ways of reading – reading the book, reading the book in conjunction with track one, or listening to track two, and I did all three to write this review, because I have distinct memories from childhood of reading a book alongside a tape – fairy tales and a special book called about a magical staircase, and I remember this was one of the ways I learnt to read early – and learnt how to pronounce words that one sometimes just saw on the page. Tina Wilson’s book offers readers of all ages a way to read this book – with an adult, or alone, as they can listen as they read, or just listen, and as such, this book is aimed at kids aged 0-8, though older readers can enjoy Monkey’s journey around Venice too. The second track is narrated as it is for the visually impaired, but having read the book without the CD, and then read it with the CD, and listened to the independent reading track, I found that doing all three – if you’re able to – enriches the experience of the story and each brings it to life in new ways, but reading it in the way that works for you as a reader is equally rewarding and enjoyable.

The story is delightful too, and allows us in this weird world ruled by COVID to travel in a safe and fun way. When accompanied by the tracks, it enriches the reading experience and I loved the second track, where I could sit back and listen. In fact, I don’t think I could choose a single experience of reading and listening to this book that I loved the most, because not only do they offer something different based on reading needs and complement each other, it means that anyone can access this book and I think it will be a good one to use when it comes to teaching literacy and visual understanding, as well as auditory understanding in all forms in the classroom and for home learning. It’s a simple story, yet has layers about travel, loneliness and friendship that can be discussed at whichever level you are reading the story with, and there are so many ways the story can be explored. Matt Ottley’s music was beautiful and truly gave the story that extra little bit of oomph that made it so special. It was such a special and unique reading experience, and I feel like it is one that will stand out for me, especially as someone who finds audiobooks hard to focus on. Being able to read the book along with the audio helped, and with track two, being able to sit back and listen after reading the text made it easier to follow for me – and that is just my experience reading this beautiful, unique and fun book.

A great read!

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