CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 16 . . . . April 12, 2002
Elliot Moose woke up with his nose twitching and his feet itching. He ran to the big front door, looked through the letter slot and grinned from ear to ear.
"It's spring!" he whooped.
The snow was melting. There were rivers and puddles everywhere. He and Socks could build dams and race twig boats today!
"Socks," called Elliot. "Spring is here. Let's go outside!"
Spring is finally here, and Elliot Moose, star of this sixth book in the series created by Andrea Beck, can't wait to get outside. He's so impatient to get outside that rather than wait for Socks the monkey to open the door, he decides to attempt to get out himself through the letter slot in the front door.
Imagining Sock's surprise if he got out by himself, Elliot manages to worm his head through the slot but can go no further. His tummy simply will not budge. When Socks arrives, his attempts to push Elliot through don't work, nor do his tries to pull him back in. Elliot is stuck. In a situation reminiscent of Winnie-the-Pooh in Rabbit's hole, Elliot waits as his friends gather and form a chain. When this approach doesn't work, Elliot overhears a plan involving scissors and saw and grease being hatched. This inspires him to take things into his own hands.
His friends, involved in their plan to get him out, fail to notice his wiggling. When he finally escapes, Socks asks how he got out. "The same way I got in!" laughs Elliot, and the group is finally on their way outside.
The story, like the other Elliot tales, is simple, and yet the situations and feelings portrayed are all those to which young children can relate, from the frustration at not being tall enough to reach the door handle to the anxiety at being in a bad situation and wanting to help a friend.
The real charm of the stories comes from the exquisite illustrations. Beck's creations leap off the page, so detailed are her pencil crayon illustrations. Her pictures have texture, verisimilitude and poignancy -- stemming from the fact that we can see each stitch in Sock's body, each fur in Elliot's form and each grain of wood on the floor. Beck never makes them look like actual animals as opposed to stuffed animals, and yet her characters appear real, by virtue of their expressions and their ability to portray emotion.
Those familiar only with the television show of the same name should have a look at the series that inspired it. The books are sure to become favorites in a school or family library. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and complement the story's loving theme. In soft pastel colors and simple lines, these pictures illustrate the mother-child bond seen throughout a typical day's games and chores. While the couplets describe the activities of a typical day, it is the illustrations that make this book pleasing.
Greenaway has worked in bookselling and publishing but is now at home
with her small children in Edmonton, AB.
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