This Is a Moose

Richard T. Morris, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. Little, Brown, $18 (48p) ISBN 978-0-316-21360-8

Morris (Bye-Bye, Baby!) and Lichtenheld (Steam Train, Dream Train) preside over loud and cheerful mayhem as animal moviemakers try to film a serious moose documentary (“This is the mighty moose,” it opens) but are thwarted by a group of stars that refuse to be typecast. Their subject, wearing a homemade space helmet, announces that he wants to be an astronaut. In lipstick and pearls, Grandmother Moose says that she always wanted to be a lacrosse goalie: “Go ahead! Whip a shot in!” she challenges, “I’ll stiff you, sonny!” Defying the documentary project and its bossy, imperious director, the other woodland creatures (including a giraffe with medical aspirations) conspire to send the astronaut moose into space with an oversize rubber band: “SPROING!” Deadpan delivery, sharp timing, and Lichtenheld’s antic artwork all contribute to high-octane entertainment that also addresses defying expectations, not to mention gravity. Amid the fun, the punchline (the duck director’s realization that he isn’t acting any more “natural” than the moose is) offers an opportunity to discuss double standards. Ages 3–6. [em]Author’s agent: Alice Tasman, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Amy Rennert, Amy Rennert Agency. (May) [/em]