I don't often say yes to picture book review requests, but when I was offered The Adventures of Gracie and MonkeyBear, by C.S. O'Kelly, illustratd by Jordy Farrell, I thought it would make a fun change so I said yes. And it was a cute book and a fun change (although being a picture book, it was about a five minute change; not a criticism, but just a comment on reading time....).
Gracie is one of the imaginative, smart sort of kids, who is able to make her urban backyard into a place of magic and adventure. With her faithful dog and super intelligent comrade-in-arms, MonkeyBear, she sets out to meet all the challenges that come her way. A young T-Rex, entombed in soil, is freed and set on its way. The duo then come to the aid of a distressed Voosurian starship (MonkeyBear has a helpful Voosuiran starship repair manual. He's that sort of dog). And finally a third adventure, involving a whale in the backyard plastic pool, shows that deep adventures can be found in what looks like an ordinary small city yard....
Spending a day (of book time) skipping from one adventure to the next with Gracie and MonkeyBear is well worth it. Especially MonkeyBear--he is the most nerdy genius type dog I've met for ages! There are lots and lots of fun details to point out to young readers (or for them to spot and point out to you). A good one for kids love pretend games themselves--it will give them lots of encouragement! It's an especially good for kids who themselves live in a city, who will enjoy seeing adventures happening in their own environment.
For a picture book, it seems on the high on the word count, making a good one to read with an older child of five or so. And just as a final note--Although independently published, there's nothing about the writing, editing or the illustrations that seemed to me at all unprofessional.
Here's another review at Kid Lit Reviews, and here's the (starred) Kirkus review.