THE ADVENTURES OF MOOSE & MR. BROWN

Safe to skip it.

Anthropomorphic animals meet through happenstance, become friends, and help each other with their problems.

The new spin this title tries to apply to the overly familiar trope is that one of the two characters—monkey Mr. Brown—is a famous fashion designer. He meets Moose on a plane when Moose is traveling from Alaska to London. Moose is introduced as having a superfluous and perpetually absent-minded twin—Monty—who has boarded the wrong plane. Mr. Brown offers to help Moose look for Monty, though looking seems to just mean that Moose will accompany Mr. Brown as he travels around the world to work. Moose, in return, provides Mr. Brown with top-notch fashion ideas, such as scarves for giraffes and sunglasses for snakes. Though clearly aiming for some degree of lovable kitsch, this title overshoots and lands squarely on bizarre. The premise is preposterous; the narrative meandering. At best the choice to feature an anthropomorphic (possibly stuffed) monkey character named “Mr. Brown” is unfortunate; at worst, it’s offensive—especially taken alongside the tiny vignette that is the sole representation of Africa. The illustrations are frequently too crowded, making decoding them difficult and rendering the entire work a confusing mess.

Safe to skip it. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-84365-428-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Pavilion Children's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

HOME

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

I WISH YOU MORE

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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