Heroism threatens a friendship.
Marvin the moose and Woody the beaver are introduced as “best friends,” but their friendship is stretched thin after Marvin uses his antlers to save another animal from drowning and becomes “a local hero.” At first, Woody is a fan, as he fashions a red cape that Marvin, now “AWESOME FOR HIRE,” will sport in his new superhero business venture as one who is “brave, caring ANDunderstanding.” Unfortunately, the more Marvin grows in fame and stature (there’s even a statue in his honor), the more Woody is consumed by jealousy. Things quickly swirl out of control for Woody as he makes one bad move after another, causing injury and mayhem in the forest. Fortunately, all ends well as Woody performs a rescue of his own and a new statue is erected (featuring Marvin’s head on top of Woody’s, this looks somewhat like a totem pole). Shuttlewood adds little to the canon of picture-book tales of friendship, and the extreme measures to which the beaver resorts (theft, bullying, and assault) for attention may raise eyebrows. The cartoon-style illustrations are colorful but very busy, and the pages are often filled to overbrimming with creatures of the forest.
There is a lesson about true friendship here, but the action-figure moves muddy the message. (Picture book. 4-7)