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Z is for Moose

ABC Picture Book Review

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

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Cover of Z is for Moose alphabet book HarperCollins

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Introduction

Z is for Moose, written by first time picture book author Kelly Bingham, is not your standard alphabet book. The hilarious plot of this ABC book, illustrated by versatile and award-winning illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky, will be enjoyed by everyone ages 3 years and up.

 

Initially, Z is for Moose seems to be a typical alphabet book: "A is for Apple, B is for Ball, C is for Cat." Zebra is in charge of the alphabet show and is confident he can direct everyone to appear on the right page at the right time. However, when readers turn the page to D, Zebra’s anxious and overenthusiastic friend Moose cannot wait his turn.

Moose’s antics rudely interrupt the presentation of each letter. Surely, he will be chosen for M. But when Zebra decides to go with Mouse, Moose is furious and throws a temper tantrum like no other. Moose is heartbroken and disappointed as the alphabet show continues. It’s too late for him to be in the ABC cast. But Zebra is a true, caring friend who finds a solution that makes everyone happy...including Moose!

The Illustrations

The zany cartoon style by illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky completes the cleverness of this amazing romp with the ABCs. The illustrations on the endpapers begin the story as the curtain lifts to show the characters of the alphabet show. They line up to be counted by Zebra, the director, who is dressed as a referee with clipboard in hand. Most of Zelinsky’s work is drawn or painted on paper but, for effect, he sometimes uses a computer.

For Z is for Moose, he used Photoshop to create perfectly flat smooth backgrounds and simple rectangular borders. He drew an outline of the drawings for the pictures, scanned them, gave them a white interior, and set them in front of the backgrounds. When printed on watercolor paper, he could finish by water coloring everything not in the background. Using mixed media, the text is printed in large letters and the dialogue between the characters is enclosed in speech bubbles. (Source: Official Website: Paul O. Zelinsky)

Author Kelly Bingham

Since Kelly Bingham was a little girl she has loved to read, write, and draw pictures. Bingham attended college in Southern California, receiving a degree in animation. For 12 years this author worked at Walt Disney Feature Animation as a storyboard artist. She worked on a number of movies while employed at Disney: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Tarzan, Atlantis, and The Emperor’s New Groove.

In 2004, after earning an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College, Bingham left Disney to write full time. Published in 2007, Shark Girl was her first novel and an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Z is for Moose is her first picture book. Official Web site: Kelly Bingham)

Illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky

Illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky is recognized as one of the most creative and talented illustrators of children’s books today. Zelinsky drew compulsively from an early age. However it was not until his sophomore year at Yale College when he enrolled in a course on history and the practices of the picture book that he knew his life’s work. This course, taught by an English professor and Maurice Sendak, inspired Zelinsky to illustrate picture books as his career.

Paul O. Zelinsky does not have a recognizable style, suiting his artwork and techniques to the particular nature of the illustrated book. He has received numerous awards including the Randolph Caldecott Medal for Rapunzel (1998) and three Caldecott honors for Hansel and Gretel (1985), Rumplestiltskin (1987), and Swamp Angel (1995). Today he lives and works in Brooklyn where he can be seen riding his folding bicycle. (Source: Official Web site: Paul O. Zelinsky)

My Recommendation

Z is for Moose is an irresistible romp with the alphabet that can be enjoyed by children 3 years old and older. The text type is Times Roman, making the capital letter that introduces each page of the alphabet book easy to identify. Children who have learned the alphabet are more likely to enjoy and understand the humor. Since the details of the illustrations help to tell the story, using this book with a group of children in story time would not be as effective as sharing it with one or two children at a time.

Some adults might find Moose’s behavior less than admirable, but in reality his behavior mirrors the behavior of children. The book provides an opportunity to talk about hurt feelings, waiting your turn, temper tantrums, and saying, “thank you.”  Zebra, on the other hand, is an example of unconditional friendship. Certainly there is no shortage of alphabet books, but make room on your shelf for this laugh-out-loud twist on the traditional ABC book. (Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2012. ISBN: 9780060799847) Compare Prices

More Recommendations, From Elizabeth Kennedy

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault is another particularly entertaining ABC book. Lois Ehlert, who wrote and illustrated Leaf Man and Snowballs, illustrated this picture book. For more picture books recognized with Caldecott honors for picture book illustration, learn about the current Caldecott Medal winner and honor books. For a virtually wordless picture book, see The Lion and the Mouse, for which artist Jerry Pinkney received the 2010 Caldecott Medal.

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