Review: A Moose That Says Moo by Jennifer Hamburg

moose that says moo

A Moose That Says Moo! by Jennifer Hamburg, illustrated by Sue Truesdell

Sitting near the laundry drying on the line, a little girl is reading books about animals.  She starts to think about having a zoo of her very own and what sorts of animals it would have.  It’s guaranteed that no other zoo has animals like hers!  There is a moose that says “moo,” bears that drive cars, tigers that swing in the trees, and sharks that read books.  At night, the animals have a big pillow fight that turns into one silly brawl with awakened goats, tap-dancing pigs that startle easily, tripping turtles, and even groundhogs that protest.  It will take one smart young girl to get everything put back together again even in this imaginary zoo.

Written in a rollicking rhyme, this book really celebrates the ridiculous and the silly.  Hamburg manages to create zoo animals with wild qualities that make the book a surprise on each page.  The result is a book that dances on the edge of losing control, but the firm hand Hamburg takes with the rhyme and rhythm keeps it within control and makes for a book that begs to be shared aloud.

Truesdell does an amazing job of managing to take all of the wild chaotic silliness of the book and turn it into illustrations that help it all make sense.  At the same time, she too revels in the silliness on the page and adds to it with small touches like a reading shark accidentally eating a book, the offer of many tissues to a sneezing tiger, and goggled bears in cars. 

Pure silliness, this book could merrily be wedged into many storytime themes.  Use it as a finisher since even antsy children will sit still for this wild ride.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Review: Max and the Tag-Along Moon

max and the tag along moon

Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper

When it’s time for Max to head home from his Granpa’s house, Max is very sad.  But his grandfather reassures him by saying “That ol’ moon will always shine for you…on and on!”  All the way home in the car, Max watches the moon as it travels along with them.  When they get home though, the moon has disappeared and Max once again feels sad and misses his grandfather.  As Max is alone in his bed that night, he looks out at the dark night with no moon.  As he watches, the moon returns from behind the clouds and Max once again feels connected to his Granpa. 

Cooper takes a very simple story of grandfather and grandson and makes it memorable with his amazing illustrations.  The story resonates with the connection of the two main characters and their love for one another.  The symbol of the moon and its light connecting them makes the book luminous and almost magical.  I appreciate a children’s picture book that is not just about an African-American child and family, but one that shows a loving male figure.

A large part of that magic are the illustrations that glow with the white-gold light of the moon.  Cooper plays with light and dark throughout the book.  Even on the pages without the moon shining, there are sources of light and shadow that are expressive and lovely. 

A strong African-American family is celebrated in this picture book that would add another level to any moon-centered storytime.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Philomel Books.