cover image Big Jim and the White-Legged Moose

Big Jim and the White-Legged Moose

Jim Arnosky. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10864-9

This tall tale's blend of fact and fiction falls flat. Unlike the All About series and Arnosky's other books that focus closely on animal habitats and other factual details, this one spins a yarn based on the author's own real encounter with an enormous moose. While driving home from a fishing trip, ""Big Jim"" sees an animal roadblock ahead, ""nine feet tall from head to hoof."" He feels frustrated not to have ""a pencil for to draw the white-legged bull"" and tracks the moose the next day in order to sketch him. When he suddenly finds himself face-to-face with his quarry, Big Jim bolts up a tree to safety, but loses his art supplies--so he is again unable to record the sight. Neither character is developed in a way that would keep readers involved. Though the opening illustrations of geese and the eponymous moose show signs of Arnosky's signature attention to detail, succeeding spreads convert the moose to a kind of Bullwinkle caricature. Images of Big Jim clinging to a birch that bends under his weight or of the moose eating leaves within inches of Jim's face border on mawkish. A song (inconveniently split in the middle by the story) makes up the endpapers. Ages 4-up. (May)