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A IS FOR MUSK OX by Erin Cabatingan


by Erin Cabatingan & illustrated by Matthew Myers

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59643-676-3
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Myers’ hilarious illustrations strengthen debut author Cabatingan’s ticklish prose in this not-quite-an-alphabet book.

A frustrated zebra attempts to finagle a confession out of the musk ox, who obviously ate his apple. The musk ox, after admitting his guilt, tries to convince the zebra that he did him a favor since “A is for apple” is "sooo boring." Instead, the book would be far more interesting if every letter of the alphabet corresponded to an attribute of musk oxen. What follows is the morphing of a concept primer into a humorous science (and sometimes pseudoscience) book, as each colorful spread features the zebra’s intended example plastered over by the words “musk ox”. The “facts” about musk oxen range from ridiculous (“D is for musk ox. Because musk ox are daring”) to genuinely interesting (“Q is for musk ox. Because the soft underwool of a musk ox is called Qiviut”). Cabatingan’s expansive dialogue misses the humor mark as often as it hits, though, and a poor design choice renders the two characters’ lines confusingly indistinguishable (the zebra’s words are rendered in a san-serif type, but its color and font are too visually similar to the musk ox’s lines), making this a challenging choice for group read-alouds.

For audiences already familiar with their alphabet and mature enough to appreciate sophisticated humor, this vibrantly illustrated romp will deliver big laughs. (Picture book. 5-10)