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Review of Z Is for Moose

Z Is for Moose
by Kelly Bingham; illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky
Primary    Greenwillow    32 pp.
3/12    978-0-06-079984-7    $16.99

If you think you’ve seen every possible idea for an alphabet book played out, think again. Even before the title page of this very funny and inventive ABC, cast members Apple, Ball, Cat, Duck, Elephant, Fox, Glove, etc., begin lining up to be checked in by Zebra, cleverly dressed as a referee. We get just a hint of things to come as our protagonist, Moose, jumps for joy in anticipation of his big moment in the spotlight. The orderly procession begins, and all goes smoothly — A is for Apple, B is for Ball, C is for Cat — until we get to D and find that Moose has pushed Duck off the stage in his eagerness. He apologizes profusely after the zebra tells him it’s not yet his turn, but then he breaks into everyone else’s page, asking, “Now?” until we finally get to M, which turns out to be for…Mouse. This causes a major temper tantrum as Moose knocks all the other letter representatives off their pages, smashes Pie all over Queen, draws antlers on Ring and Snake, and finally begins to cry (appropriately, next to V for Violin). Zebra feels such sympathy for Moose (as will the reader) that he allows him to take over his page, so that Z is for Zebra’s friend, Moose. The pages prior to Moose’s tantrum are funny for the ways in which Moose insinuates himself into each picture: hiding behind an ice-cream cone, appearing on a jam jar label, popping his head out of a kangaroo’s pouch. In the tantrum itself, the visual humor gets more sophisticated as Moose disrupts the alphabet by smashing, stomping on, and revising whole lines of text. You can barely read “Q is for Queen,” for example, since the letters lie in mangled little piles at the bottom of the page. Zelinsky’s zany cartoon style is perfect for Moose’s antics, both before and after the letter M.

From the March/April 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Kathleen T. Horning About Kathleen T. Horning

Kathleen T. Horning is the director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, a library of the School of Education, University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the author of From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books and teaches a popular online course for ALSC on the history of the Newbery and Caldecott medals.

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