Friday, February 20, 2015

This is a moose by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Really funny books are hard to review. Humor is so...subjective. However, I just had to talk about this one.

Every year, when I visit all the schools in May/June, I take one or two funny picture books. I read samples or the whole thing to every class from kindergarteners up to sixth grade. 2014 I took two books - My Humongous Hamster and This is a Moose. The kids loved the hamster, but the most frequent requests I had at the library afterwards, and continuing well into the fall, were for "the moose book".

The endpaper shows a shadow of a moose behind a camera lens. A voice yells "Focus!" and we turn the page to see the film begin "This is a moose - take one!" We behold the mighty moose, descendant of many mooses. He wants to be an astronaut. Wait, WHAT?? The unseen director goes on, getting more and more exasperated as he tries to film a "normal" moose and gets interrupted by the moose's unnatural ambitions, his grandmother, a random giraffe (who wants to be a doctor), and all the woodland creatures helping the moose achieve his goal. There's a surprise at the end as we discover who the director actually is - and everyone realizes that maybe we can be whatever we want.

Tom Lichtenheld's colored pencil illustrations have the perfect blend of friendly illustration and wacky humor to capture kids' attention. I really like that his art is friendly and accessible, but doesn't overpower the story. He complements the text with little side jokes and perfect timing in the pictures to maximize the humor.

Verdict: This could be a sententious story about how you don't have to stay in the little box of what society expects of you. Honestly, however, I doubt that many, if any, kids will bring away that thought. It's just a hilarious story about a moose. And that's awesome.

ISBN: 9780316213608; Published 2014 by Little, Brown; Purchased for the library

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