"Up at Lake Winna-Bango...the far northern shore...
Lives a huge herd of moose, about sixty or more,
And they all go around in a big happy bunch
Looking for nice tender moose-moss to munch"
--Dr. Seuss, from THIDWICK THE BIG-HEARTED MOOSE (Random House, 1948)
"Mooses look into your window at night,
They look to the left and they look to the right.
The mooses are smiling they think it's a zoo
And that's why the mooses like looking at you."
--Arlo Guthrie, from MOOSES COME WALKING, illustrated by Alice M. Brock (Chronicle,1995)
Since years before I was even born, mooses have maintained a reputation among children for being big, goofy creatures. In Z IS FOR MOOSE, this persona is employed in the crafting of the funniest alphabet book I have seen in a long time.
Z IS FOR MOOSE is framed as a standard alphabet book. It begins with "A is for Apple," and "B is for Ball," one letter per page with simple illustrations accompanying the text. But for those who have paid any attention to what is going on across the copyright and dedication pages (and even earlier), this is clearly not your standard ABC book. Instead, we see a passel of creatures and inanimate objects (apples and jam jars and pie slices all with legs) lined up outside a stage door. A zebra, attired in a referee's shirt
and holding a clipboard, is clearly in charge of maintaining order.
"D is for Moose
"Moose does not start with D. You are on the wrong page."
By time we get to the letter D, a rambunctious Moose has kicked the Duck off stage and has taken over. When Zebra chases him off of that page, Moose accidentally jams an antler into the Elephant on the E page, and gets in the way of the Hat on the H page. Then he is clearly visible behind the ice cream cone on the I page, and somehow gets himself onto the label of the jar of Jam on the J page. What could be the funniest moment is seeing his big Moose muzzle sticking out of the kangaroo's pouch, with the startled baby kangaroo asking, "Mommy, who is that?"
This is but a prelude to all hell breaking loose when it turns out that M is for Mouse instead of it being designated for Moose. In his subsequent tantrum, Moose wreaks havoc amongst the Owl, the Pie, and the Queen, and crayons moose antlers onto the Ring and the Snake, before Zebra begins protecting the rest of the pages and, ultimately, comes to a satisfactory compromise with Moose for sharing his (Zebra's) page.
Z IS FOR ZEBRA is really well-crafted for re-reading discoveries. For instance, I had to go back to the copyright page/dedication page happenings to figure out what the small, unidentifiable objects on the respective B is for Ball and C is for Cat pages actually are. In addition to pairing this with other memorable moose books, the behind-the-scenes antics here make me want to try this alongside my favorite Elephant and Piggie book, WE ARE IN A BOOK.
A real moose-ter-piece! 32 pages