Friend to the End? Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham
ZEBRA IS WRITING AN ABC BOOK.
With best friend Moose eagerly looking on, Zebra starts out predictably. A = Apple. B = Ball. C = Cat. No surprises... but so far so good.
But Moose can't wait to get into the act. He pushes his way onto the page, displacing Duck.
"NO, MOOSE DOESN'T START WITH D," Zebra says sternly.
"YOU ARE ON THE WRONG PAGE."
It's not that Moose doesn't know his alphabet. He just can't wait to get into the act. He annoys the Elephant by peeping over the page frame, prodding him with an antler. He pokes his way on the H page and tries to appropriate the Hat for his own head.
Zebra testily points out once more that it's not his turn and proceeds doggedly on through the alphabet. Moose impetuously substitutes himself in Kangaroo's pouch, a tight fit which totally confuses the little Joey. When he gets through L for Lollipop, Moose, sure it's time for his entrance, intervenes again, saying "Here it comes!"
But here it doesn't come. Moose does NOT get the expected M page to himself; Mouse gets that gig. Moose is miffed, and just a little bit hurt as well. As the alphabet winds down to its last letters, Moose redoubles his efforts to put himself in the picture, sprawling over the Truck and sobbing when Whale fills the whole page. Zebra comes down to Z, and Moose despairs. Z is certainly going to be reserved for author Zebra, and it looks like Moose is not going to make the cut! Not only will he not be in the book, but this must mean that Zebra is not his friend anymore.
It's A for Amazing that their creators continue to come up with ways to present the well-worn alphabet in fresh and funny ways, but author Kelly Bingham and Caldecott winning artist Paul O. Zelinsky have certainly made the A-team with their new collaboration, Z Is for Moose (Greenwillow, 2012). As Mo Willems and Lane Smith have done in their recent titles, the two play with the very limitations of the book, as Zelinsky's meddlesome Moose constantly pushes his way onto the page, high-stepping over the blackline page frame, hanging over it, and strolling innocently into the illustration with sappy sangfroid. Zelinsky dresses his Zebra ironically, in a referee's striped shirt as he tries to bring some order to Moose's efforts to insert himself into the sequence of the alphabet. Bingham adds giggle-producing dialogue into the illustrations themselves with her speech balloons, as when the little kangaroo looks askance at the huge and hooved interloper in his place in mom's pouch, and querulously whimpers, "Mommy, who's THAT?" This is a D for Delightful alphabet book, which works as straightforward teaching tool as well as a humorous look at ways to work out the kinks in a friendship.
And oh, yes! Moose does get his own moment on the Z page as Zebra's best friend.
Kirkus Reviews come through with their own suggestion: "Just label it F for Funny!"