The Book Elf has found that no matter how many hours of research he does, how many “Best of” book lists he pours over, how many Amazon reviews he reads, truly outstanding books that make you want to read them again and again are rare indeed.
Some words of caution: Many of those organizations that like to foil stamp metallic awards like Olympic medals on the front of books do not have the same definition of “good” as your average bedtime reader. They have a major bias for beautifully illustrated books without words. Which I can appreciate as the art forms they are, but I do not want to spontaneously narrate works of art after a long day of work, feeding people, bathing people, dressing people and brushing said people’s teeth. Yes, the The Lion & the Mouse is gorgeous and no, I don’t want to think. Sometimes I just want to mindlessly read.
And those people on Amazon almost always like everything. Just about every book I look at has an average rating of 4.5 stars. Even super bad books like Peanuts: You Can Be Anything! which is one of the worst books I’ve read… ever. Proving that the American public’s taste in children’s literature can rarely be trusted.
And that is a long winded way of saying, sometimes the Book Elf picks a real lemon.
In a nutshell: This Is a Moose by Richard T. Morris is a story about a moose on the set of a documentary film. There are a number of “takes” with the black clackey thing, as the director tries to shoot his movie. But alas, the moose doesn’t want to be your average wild moose and instead wants to be an astronaut. For some reason his grandma comes along and she wants to be a lacrosse goalie. Some other things happen, there’s a doctor giraffe, and then the animals build a giant catapult and launch the moose into space in a lawn chair. At this point, we find out the director is a duck and he has a conniption Don’t-Let-the-Pigeon-Drive-the-Bus-style. He wants the animals to act like animals instead of like astronauts and goalies and doctors and movie production crew workers. He has some sort of epiphany, which took me two concerted re-readings to really get, and the entire crew launches itself into space in a canoe to film the moose on the moon as an astronaut.
Overall I had high hopes for this book and they fell to earth like a moose-shaped asteroid. Fortunately, the illustrations are well done. Unfortunately, there is a little drawing of a moose visibly heeding nature’s call, which then becomes the only page the two little potty-obsessed three and five-year-old kiddos at my house care about. The story requires a lot of explanation. The subtle message of this book is to dream big, or as Peanuts might say, “You Can Be Anything!” I wish I could get the Book Elf to take it back to the North Pole but unfortunately, the boys dig it. They even talked Nonna into buying it on her Kindle.
Families can talk about: What is a movie set? Is it called a clapperboard or a black clackey thing? What is it for? What is a microphone on a boom? What is a lacrosse goalie? What is a lawn-chair sling shot? Can you put a fish bowl on your head and fly to the moon in a canoe? What else am I going to have to try and explain before we can get through this book? Should the title be: This Is a Moose, or This Is a Dud?
This Is a Moose by Richard T. Morris