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I bought "Elusive Moose" in December 2007 for £3.96 including P&P. I love moose, and all things moose-related, and my library of moose-related books is pretty impressive although by no means yet complete (in fact it never will be as more books are released year by year) and a trawl of Amazon leads me to see just how many more moose books I need (in fact my best friend just sent me an amazing moose book to cheer me up which was very much appreciated)!
I bought this book for no other reason than it being about moose, and while some of my purchases have turned out to not be so great (for instance "One Moose Twenty Mice" which is illustrated by the same lady, Clare Beaton, who illustrated "Elusive Moose" - can't fault the pictures which are gorgeous, however I perhaps should've guessed with the title of that book that it was a counting book and moose would only feature on the first page rather than it being a book about moose - duh!), this was one of the better ones - although I should note that I do love EVERYTHING in my moose collection!
---The layout, illustrations, text and story---
"Elusive Moose" is available as a hardback book or as a board book, which is what I have. It has 28 pages in total, 22 of which make up the story, and a lovely story it is too!
Each double-paged spread (there are 11 of these) features a beautiful picture and two lines of text aside from the final page where there are four lines of text.
The pictures are unusual, being distinctive to Clare Beaton, the illustrator. It is like a patchwork scene has been created with a wide variety of materials (ginghams, felts, cottons etc) and additional bits such as sequins, beads and buttons - all sewn together using a variety of different stiches. Then a photo has been taken of these works of art. As a board book, the pictures are glossy in finish, and are really a joy to look at. Although verging on the slightly darker side (forests with trees etc) the colours are clear, and there is a mixture of light and dark. I am sure that children will LOVE them.
The story (written by Joan Gannij) is about different animals (brown bears, beavers, eagles, and horses to name a few) but obviously the elusive moose are the focus. To give some two examples of how the story works and the rhyming pattern (it is definitely worth the adult reader practicing out loud once or twice before performing to the more critical small child):
"At night I've heard badgers
And green frogs that leap"
"But I dream about moose
As I slumber and sleep."
"But moose are elusive.
Moose roam where they please.
I wish I could see one
Just once. May I, please?" - this is the ending of the book, and I think one of the best endings I've ever come across in a book.
It feels like this book was written specifically with ME in mind. In fact I think it was written FOR me. Some of the language is quite adult-like (elusive is not a simple word after all!), but I think this adds to the unusualness of the book. The book has a 'hide and seek' story to it, as on each page, there is a hidden moose (or part of a moose) - some pages are more obvious than others, and the older the child is, the easier it will be!
The font is black, and not that big. Perhaps it could be a bit bigger and clearer (especially on the darker backgrounds) for learning readers to be able to follow as an adult reads, but I don't think that this really detracts significantly from the book. The book is I believe primarily aimed at the 0-4 age group.
Being a board book, small children can turn the pages - the book is also available in paperback as well though. Admittedly, I am not and do not have small children. And I am not prepared to start dribbling on or trying to bend the card that the book is made of. I'm not even prepared to pour my glass of wine on it to see how easy it is to clean (but I imagine it would clean relatively well). Perhaps when I do have children it will be suitably abused. I can say that it isn't THE sturdiest of board books, however of all my moose books it's definitely the one I'd be happiest leaving within reach of a small and unsupervised child (not that small children should be left unsupervised of course)!
---More of my views and stuff---
I love the concept of the book, and searching for a moose on each page is right up my street. It is definitely a book to be read as a bedtime story, smaller children will hear the rhyme and hopefully fall into a deep slumber dreaming of moose. Slightly older children will love to search for the elusive moose on each page.
"Elusive Moose" was published in 2006 (the year in which it won an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award). The RRP of the board book (published in 2007 in Great Britain by Barefoot Books- www.barefootbooks.com) is £4.99, but the board book is currently available new on Amazon for £3.74 with free delivery - a bargain for such a lovely book.
I will award the book 5 out of 5 stars. An absolute must-have for anyone with a love of moose, but an excellent buy for anyone looking for a bedtime story for a small child!