Wednesday, April 2, 2014

This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers (2012)

I'm not exactly sure how to describe this picture book.  I know I liked it - very much.  I wanted to describe it as "surreal" but I think that I have bandied that term about without a lot of thought to what it actually means.  I certainly don't think the pictures can be defined in as "surrealism"in the artistic sense.  Nor, really, can the story.  "Surrealism" seems to be defined by dreams and hyper-distorted reality; surreal always leaves an unsettling taste in my mouth too.     A boy owning a moose isn't necessarily reality, it's also not hyper-distorted.  Perhaps a better way to describe it would be "deadpan fantasy."  Something about the tone reminded me of Terry Pratchett; and Mo Willems writes and illustrates in this realm as well.  

The best illustration, maybe the best ever in any picture book - the moose and boy going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

This Moose Belongs to MeThis Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not exactly sure what to call this, because "surreal" always leave behind an unsettling discomfort, and the story and illustrations of This Moose Belongs to Me left behind nothing but a trail of laughter and delight. "Surrealism" distorts reality with dreamlike imagery; there is some dreamlike imagery in this picture book, but it's more snorting with laughter than distorted.  Perhaps "deadpan fantasy" is a term to use (and that maybe I just coined,although I doubt it). Mo Willems writes in this realm; Dr. Seuss did as well, in his best books (except, thank goodness, Oliver Jeffers eschews poetry in favor of dry humor prose).  There is an illustration of a boy and his moose going over Niagara Falls in a barrel that may be the best illustration in any children's picture book I've ever read.


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