When I wrote a biting review of two Minnesota-themed children’s books by Minnetonka writer Kathy-jo Wargin, I thought that would be the last I’d hear from her publisher Sleeping Bear Press. But no! In a recent mail delivery I discovered a copy of Wargin’s new picture book Moose on the Loose, and I’m glad I did. It’s a fun romp, with cute illustrations by John Bendell-Brunello.
The text relies on rhyming and repetition, two tricks as reliably effective in writing for young children as a banana peel is in a clown act. “What would you do,” Wargin asks rhetorically (I hope), “with a moose on the loose?” You might, it turns out, chase him, race him, face him, take a ride, put him on a slide, read him a book, teach him to cook…you get the idea. Bendall-Brunello’s illustrations are limpid and unassuming: can you picture a moose dancing in pants, with a household pet looking on in surprise? So can Bendall-Brunello.
Moose on the Loose is a charming readaloud. It’s unlikely to be turned into a Spike Jonze movie any time soon…but depending on whom you ask, that might be considered a good thing.