Bound To Stay Bound

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Booklist - 01/01/2012 *Starred Review* This laugh-out-loud romp of an abecedary features an impatient moose who just can’t wait for his turn. There is something intrinsically funny about moose (the art has a Bullwinkle feel), and this overenthusiastic one prematurely pops up onstage at D, wearing a proud grin, with hapless Duck having been pushed out of the way. Zebra (sporting a referee’s black-striped shirt) leaps out from the corner, shouting, “Moose? No. Moose does not start with D. You are on the wrong page.” Moose then wanders onto Elephant’s page, Fox and Glove are forced to share a stage, and then Moose’s irrepressibly excited mug plops down from the ceiling, obscuring Hat: “Is it my turn yet?” Basically, he is like an antsy kid anticipating his big star turn at M, only to be heartbroken when Mouse is given that letter’s starring role. Zebra, though frustrated, is not deaf to Moose’s offstage sobbing (look to the title for his resolution to the problem). Ideal for kids who are past struggling to learn the alphabet and who will fully get the humor in Moose’s goofy antics. - Copyright 2012 Booklist.

School Library Journal - 03/01/2012 PreS-Gr 2—This zany alphabet book will make children smile. Zebra, dressed in a referee's shirt and cap, acts as director of the book project, assigning appropriate objects or animals to represent each letter. Zebra's endeavor begins peacefully enough with "A is for Apple." Next comes "B is for Ball," and then "C is for Cat." Each animal or object cooperatively poses center stage on the neatly designed page, featuring a bright border and the letter of the moment displayed in colored print. When Zebra reaches "D," his orderly alphabetical display is disrupted by the overeager Moose, who lopes onto the page, displacing the Duck. Zebra rages at the hapless Moose, who then slinks onto "E's" page, bumping into the chagrined Elephant. Zebra struggles to proceed through the alphabet letter by letter as Moose continues to interrupt. To Moose's shock and dismay, Zebra decides to go with "M is for Mouse." He rampages throughout the rest of the alphabet ruining each entry while Zebra protests. When Moose finally breaks down in tears, Zebra relents. He allows Moose to appear on the last page of the book. "Z is for Zebra's friend, Moose." The amusing alphabetical adventure is told through hilarious mixed-media illustrations and dialogue bubbles. Unexpected details like Moose hiding in Kangaroo's pocket will delight young readers. Pair this title with Susan Heyboer O'Keefe's equally amusing Hungry Monster ABC (Little, Brown, 2007) or Tasha Tudor's more sedate A Is for Annabelle (S & S, 2001).—Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA - Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

Bulletin for the Center... - 04/01/2012 A simple “A is for Apple” abecedary should be easy to achieve, right? Not in this case. Clipboard-bearing Zebra is in charge of getting the players on and off the stage in an item-by-item alphabetical pageant, and initially it goes as planned—Apple marches up the stairs on its little green legs (retracted once in position, of course), and poses obediently for the “A” tableau as Zebra peeks around the corner to make sure it all goes smoothly. Which, soon enough, it doesn’t—the excited Moose gormlessly pops onto the stage for D, leaving the distressed Duck fluttering in frustration and the stage-managing Zebra exasperated. The too-eager moose slinks off past the Elephant but comes bouncing back quickly, poking his head into the frame in H in hopes that it’s his turn, peeking out from behind the Ice Cream, prancing across the label on the Jar, and hiding in the pouch of the Kangaroo as he gets ready for his big moment—which is stolen by the Mouse. Moose then tantrums through the rest of the book, tossing O, P, and Q (Owl, Pie, and Queen) head over heels, defacing other subjects with crayoned-on antlers and claiming with petulant absurdity that R and S are also for Moose. Zebra fends him off for a few more letters, plastering himself across the Truck and Umbrella to keep Moose from invading, until finally he relents and allows Moose an appearance when there’s only one more letter left: “Z is for Zebra’s friend, Moose.” Disrupted expectations are a particularly satisfying source of humor in books for young people, because that technique is deliciously inclusive, winking at audiences for being in the know as they get the joke. This is a particularly amusing example of the device: the underlying alphabet book is blandly modest, with big-print text, bare staging, and solid-color frames; it will be immediately recognized by young audiences, and it’s ripe for parody. Obstreperous Moose is part Mo Willems’ desperate Pigeon and part Mélanie Watts’ invasive cat Chester, and he will win kids’ hearts with his yearning for inclusion. The art carries the story right from the first endpaper, where Moose hoists the bottom of the magenta curtain drawn over the scene, peering out at the audience and revealing the alphabetical cast waiting patiently in line for their cues. Zelinsky expertly presents the comic theatrics in friendly, guileless watercolors touched with black pencil and backed with digital planes of color. The illustrations cleverly provide viewers with a multiple perspectives; kids will understand what genre the book is theoretically attempting, they’ll be amused by the behind-the-scenes “rehearsal” elements of the production (Ball’s teddy bear waits for him by the edge of the B tableau, biped Cat nips out of her tank top and shorts to pose, purring, on all fours), and they’ll revel in the disaster as chaos overtakes the production. Yet unlike many comic alphabet-based texts, this actually remains useful for its original purpose; viewers can enjoy the thrill of the hunt as they figure out which alphabetical elements Moose is obscuring or upending and match the line of characters waiting offstage to their relevant letters. Enterprising classrooms may even want to stage their own version of this, and everybody will be elated by this goofy new way of going from A to Z. (See p. 390, for publication information.) Deborah Stevenson, Editor - Copyright 2012 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

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