Wednesday, 13 November 2013

This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children's Books)

This Moose Belongs to Me

Written and Illustrated by
Oliver Jeffers

Published by HarperCollins Children's Books

When I first spotted the cover of "This Moose Belongs to Me" nestling in a bookshop a while ago, it instantly triggered my internal jukebox and made me think of Goldfrapp's awesome album "Felt Mountain". You see, that cover - with the soaring skies and rugged landscape, and the trademark Jeffers-style characters, made me want to dive in and live inside the book. Luxurious and instantly eye catching.

I was a bit unsure what Charlotte's reaction to this would be. She wasn't that keen on Jeffers' recent "Hueys" books but did indeed love the team up with Drew Daywalt for "The Day the Crayons Quit". Although "This Moose Belongs to Me" predates "Crayons" it's the sort of Oliver Jeffers book that instantly wins us back to being huge fans of his work.

A young boy delights in the discovery that he has somehow inherited a moose, named Marcel. Marcel is an adequate pet. Sometimes he follows the boy's strict rule book and guidelines - all the things a pet should be and should do, sometimes - inevitably - Marcel doesn't.

The delicious subtlety of the book is that Marcel is blissfully unaware that he belongs to the boy. In fact Marcel does his own thing all of the time, the pure coincidence that he sometimes plays ball is part of the brilliant humour of this book, and certainly something that Charlotte picked up on - particularly when, halfway through the book, Marcel seems to belong to someone else entirely.

A battle of wills ensues. The boy vs the old lady who also believes the moose belongs to her. Downhearted, the boy sulks - and gets into trouble, tangled in a thicket and seemingly stranded in the middle of nowhere. Who could possibly save him?

The rest of the story is yours to discover (including the brilliant way the book ends, almost tucked away in the end papers). Fall in love if you will (as I did) with the utterly gorgeous illustrations but here, it's Jeffers' writing that impresses - and the undertow that catches you in its thrall as you sit there, looking at your own pet, wondering who exactly owns who!

Charlotte's best bit: Marcel being a particularly useful umbrella

Daddy's Favourite bit: Sumptuous illustrations are only half the story here. The nature of our relationship with animals, with the environment, with our belief that we truly own anything is uncovered and laid bare in such a subtle and beautiful way. Damned fine bookage Mr Jeffers.