Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Moose Shapes Up! Circle, Square, Moose (Me Again!) by Kelly Bingham


What is supposed to be a simple concept book concentrating on teaching shapes begins innocently enough with a circle, represented by an innocuous round button, and then proceeds to the square, illustrated by a sandwich.

"If you look closely," coos the mild-mannered narrator, "you will see that it is made of four--

Suddenly the lesson is interrupted by a big-toothed moose who grabs the example in his jaws.

"Look," scolds the narrator, "this book is about SHAPES! Please put that sandwich back. It's our SQUARE!"

But it's no use. Once Moose gets the bit in his teeth, so to speak, there's no stopping him. He steps right onto the page, and as the narrator attempts to continue to elucidate the shape of the TRIANGLE with examples of a wedge of cheese on a wedge of apple pie, Moose interrupts to point out that his henchman, Cat, has triangular ears.

"This is a NOT an animal book.It's a SHAPE book!" insists the narrator.

But it's too late. Moose and Company have taken over, despite the entrance of Zebra, dressed in referee's stripes and blowing his whistle. Zebra chases Moose across the pages, with shapes flying in all directions, as Moose uses the ribbon waiting to illustrate a curved line to entangle Zebra. Finally the book invader makes his escape, metafictionally, through a manhole, conveniently placed in the page.

But Moose is not quite done with his mayhem. Still the center of attention, he reappears with a final shape--the STAR--and he knows just who deserves that award the most!

It's Moose on the loose again in Kelly Bingham's latest, Circle, Square, Moose (Greenwillow Books, 2014), illustrated admirably by the Caldecott-winning Paul O. Zelinsky, whose rascally lesson-wrecking moose was the star of their 2012 hit, Z Is for Moose (Booklist Editor's Choice. Books for Youth (Awards)) (see review here). To the tune of Bingham's wry dialogue, Zelinsky lets his art run wild across and in and out of the pages in a unforgettable and kid-pleasing takeover of a familiar primary school lesson. Bingham and Zelinsky's latest book shapes up to be a top-seller and an A+ hit with the critics, who add their own stars to their reviews. As Publishers Weekly drolly points out, "It’s wild fun, and adults could probably even use the book to explore shapes with children, if they can get them to stop laughing long enough."

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