cover image What Use Is a Moose?

What Use Is a Moose?

Martin Waddell. Candlewick Press (MA), $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-933-1

This pert spin on the improbable-pet genre introduces what is arguably the goofiest and most endearing moose to come down the pike since Bullwinkle. A boy named Jack brings the moose home, and then spends much of the book trying to justify the animal's presence to his skeptical mother. He proposes a variety of moose-appropriate roles: clothesline, chauffeur, gardener, chef, housekeeper. But again and again, the outcome is so calamitous that the refrain ""That was no use!"" becomes a lesson in understatement. Mom angrily banishes the moose, then rescinds her decree when she sees that Jack is despondent; she realizes that ""being loved is a very good use for a moose."" The laughter here is virtually nonstop. Drawn in loopy, Mad-magazine-cartoon style, Robins's (Knee-High Norman) gangly, toothy moose is a hoot, whether flashing an inane smile (especially when he's handed the keys to the family car) or gamely trying his hand at domestic chores. Yet the nameless moose never overshadows the other characters, and the wide range of Mom's and Jack's emotions comes through. Waddell's (Can't You Sleep, Little Bear?) text is a model of economy, never pushing a comic point or the moral too far. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)