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--- Intro ---
I bought "Moose and Mouse" by Colin West back in June 2004 on Amazon, when I was frantically building up a massive collection of moose related items, including numerous books (some factual, but mostly children's fiction). One day when I have children I imagine that they will grow up believing that they are related in some way to moose. I will probably have to buy some non-moose-related books to read with them just so that they don't have too much of an identity crisis!
---The Book and who it's suitable for---
My copy of "Moose and Mouse" is a US version (although interesting in a moose book to note that the author is from the UK) published by Kingfisher books in 2004 and is part of the "I Am Reading" series, which is designed for young readers. This book says it's suitable for independent readers in Grades 1-2 (USA school years), which would be 6-8 years. I feel it would be better suited to the UK Years 1-2 which is 5-7 year olds. Personally I feel towards the lower end...when I bear in mind the far more complex books I was reading independently at the age of 7! This book would also be suitable for a parent to read to a much younger child and with nice biggish simple black font, it is ideal for a learning reader to follow whilst listening. Perfect!
The language used is fairly simple, although there are some words that younger readers might struggle with or need further explanation, such as "Bahamas". Although the author is British, the book has been written for an American audience I think, so it might need to be explained that "flashlight" is the American word for torch!
---The Layout and the Stories ---
The book has 48 pages. It has a card cover which has flaps which can be used as bookmarks (there's a picture of Moose saying "Here's my place"), which is a nice touch, and on the back cover there is also a list of other books in the "I am Reading" series which seem to be mostly animal themed. At the back of the book there are some useful strategies (such as asking questions and evaluating) for beginner readers which could be helpful for children.
"Moose and Mouse" contains two separate stories, "Mouse's Poem" and "The Camping Trip", and they only feature the two characters of Moose and Mouse! In "Mouse's Poem", Moose invites Mouse fishing. Mouse declares that he is too busy. Moose goes fishing, and then makes Mouse lunch, and does his gardening - Moose is very kind and thoughtful. Mouse seems quite rude, and I have to say that I feel a bit sorry for Moose. However, Moose doesn't take it to heart (he really is a lovely Moose), and it turns out that Mouse has been busy working on writing a lovely poem for Moose.
In "The Camping Trip" Moose convinces Mouse to go camping with him. Mouse isn't particularly happy about it, and moans about everything. After a lot of walking they finally find somewhere to pitch their tent for the night...and there is a surprise ending!
"Moose and Mouse" is a really heart-warming tale of friendship. I think the nice thing about these stories is that they show that Moose and Mouse are very different, having different likes and dislikes, and different things that they are good at. Yet despite being opposites, they are best friends. This is a valuable lesson for children to learn.
I love the numerous pictures (on every page, including some double paged spreads) in "Moose and Mouse", which have been created by the author of the book, Colin West. They are of the cartoon variety with some lovely bold colours, but also quite a bit of detail. They have a slight feel of Quentin Blake to them with a sort of messy edge, and they also look like they have been coloured in with watercolours. The lovely face of Moose is bound to make you and your child smile! After the stories there's a cute picture of the author drawing Moose and Mouse.
---Other info ---
The author, Colin West has written numerous children's books and more about him can be found on his website - www.colinwest.com - I will certainly bear his other books in mind when I have children!
"Moose and Mouse" can currently be purchased used on Amazon from 1p plus £2.80 delivery (the rrp of my copy is $3.95). However, it can be purchased new including a CD for £5.39 with free delivery...if I didn't already have this copy then I'd like the version with a CD!
This is a lovely addition to my moose book collection, and one which I look forward to sharing with any children I might have in the future. A moost have book for moose enthusiasts too - 5 out of 5!