“ Publisher: Puffin Books / Published: 1 Dec 1992 „
This was one of my earlier Amazon moose book purchases, bought in 2002 for £3.46, and although it isn't one of my absolute favourites, it's certainly a valuable addition to my extensive moose collection!
---An unusual moose book---
"A Moose for Jessica" is quite an unusual moose book since it is actually about a real moose rather than a made-up one (of course I love both real and made-up moose) In October 1986 (I had to find the year out myself) a bull moose came out of the Vermont woods, and into a farm owned by Larry and Lila Carrara. Astonishingly the moose 'fell in love' with a Hereford cow called Jessica, and even more amazingly remained on the farm for 76 days causing a bit of a stir! So, that's basically what it's all about. Although I love moose the best, I quite like cows too, so that makes me love the book even more. There's some cows round the back of my bf's house - they've been away all summer and have just come back (well, they might be different cows), so that's what prompted me to write this review now.
---The Book, text and pictures---
"A Moose for Jessica" is published by 'Picture Puffins'. My copy is a paperback, just slightly smaller than A4 size. It has a huge 60ish pages, so with this book you certainly get a lot for your money. There are LOADS of photos in the book, and although this took place in the 1980s, they are for the most part pretty good quality (although a few could do with brightening up a bit). Some of the pictures take up full pages, but some are smaller. In addition to pictures of the moose and cow (and the other cows) there are pictures of Larry and Lila, and the tourists who came to view the moose.
There is a lot of text, and it's a fairly small font which isn't ideal for younger readers. The Internet suggests that it's aimed at USA Grades 2-6 (which I believe is age 7 - 12), so realistically speaking that sort of age shouldn't struggle with the font, and bigger font would make the book longer (although there is some wasted space).
Having so many pages, this is a fairly long story (and to be honest if it wasn't for them wanting so many pictures in, it could've been shorter). For review writing purposes I will now retire to the sofa to read it! It took me about 15 minutes to read (slowly) and look at the pictures as I went along. I imagine it would take a similar amount of time when reading out loud to a child, but could potentially take longer. It might be a bedtime story which needs to be read over 2 nights, and it's certainly not one for when you're in a rush. I think though that with the age guide it might be one that children want to read for themselves.
I've already given the gist of the story. Basically it's about the moose (which Larry names Josh) and the cow. But it's also about the close relationship between Larry and the moose whilst still retaining the moose's status as a wild animal. I have to say that I am very jealous - Larry and Lila got to spend hours on end watching the moose (and they recognise how fortunate they were). Larry even gave up his job temporarily to spend more time at home. However, they did have a LOT of visitors (one day they had over 4000), so perhaps I wouldn't have liked that side of things. The story really is amazing, the closeness to the moose, the sheer amount of time the moose spent on the farm, and also its relationship with Jessica the cow (obviously though as the book points out, moose and cows can't produce offspring!) There is a lot of description used, and with that and the pictures, it's really easy to get absorbed in the story. The text is written by Pat A Wakefield, with Larry (it's written with Larry and Lila as characters), and it's in a very chatty and easy to read style. Although bear in mind that it is American, so some terms (e.g. "chores") and expressions might need to be explained to British children, and of course there are spelling differences.
I think that one of the best things about this book is its educational value. Unless you are a moose enthusiast like myself, as an adult reading this book to a child, you're likely to learn useful pieces of information about moose (yes, the plural of Moose is Moose), such as them losing their antlers each year, their mating rituals, what they eat, and lots more. The knowledge is given in a such a way that it will be interesting for adults, but more importantly not boring for children. That said though, it is a long story, and a younger child might lose interest in the story.
---Other things about the book---
The book is a little bit cheesy at times, but on the whole I'd say it's a lovely and heartwarming tale. The story did lead to me wanting to know a bit more about what (if anything) happened next or if the moose returned to the farm in following years, but I can't find out anything online.
Although the book was written in 1987, it doesn't really seem that dated (just a little bit perhaps). However, imagine what it would be like now if something like this happened again - there would be videos/live streaming even of the moose - how cool would that be?!
"A Moose for Jessica" can currently be purchased new on Amazon for £1.62 plus £2.80 delivery, or used from 1p plus £2.80 delivery (it has an rrp of $5.99 US). If you have a love of moose like I do, then this is an absolutely essential one for the collection, but otherwise I'd still recommend this as a slightly unusual children's book.
I would give "A Moose for Jessica" 4 out of 5 stars!