It’s a Moose by Meg Rosoff, illustrated by David Ercolini. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780399166648, 2020
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3
What did you like about the book? This is the story of a white family that is excitedly awaiting the arrival of a new baby. He turns out to be not quite what they were expecting; in fact, he’s a moose. But his family loves him anyway and marvels at all the wonderful things about him: they can hang things on his antlers, he has silky ears, he grows very quickly and is so big he soon needs a special car. A repeated refrain is that everyone else wishes they had a baby just like the moose. But pretty soon, it becomes clear that the moose cannot live comfortably in a human world. He’s too big and seems sad. So the family finds him a new home in the woods and drops him off (still wearing his human overalls and carrying suitcases.) A week later, they get a postcard saying he’s happy.
The artwork for the book is very appealing. Done in tempera with Photoshop for some details, it’s all flat planes of color surrounded by neat, black lines. All the characters have googly cartoon eyes that make it easy to read their emotions. Parts of the book even resemble cartoon panels, with soft, rounded corners. There are lots of different races and abilities represented, from the black doctor who gives the family the news to the boy in a wheelchair at show-and-tell. And there are many humorous details that are fun to pick out: the first birthday cake, which is basically chocolate layered with grass, the family resemblance between the big-nosed baby and Aunt Lydia’s portrait and the ridiculous contortions required of the moose so he can sit on the sofa to watch TV.
Anything you didn’t like about it? I was confused by the concept. This is actually the second book Rosoff has written about a moose baby, the first being the YA Moose Baby (2013) about a teen who gives birth to, you guessed it, a moose. If the concept here is that we should cherish babies who are a bit different or have special needs, it seems very weird that the family just drives out to a forest and unloads him when he gets too big. Also weird: that the parents allow the girl to punch holes in a box and take the baby to school for show-and-tell. Maybe it’s just supposed to be for giggles?
To whom would you recommend this book? I guess families expecting a new arrival might find this book fun or helpful, although it might also raise a lot of questions.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: June 3, 2020