Moose Baby by Meg Rosoff
I first heard about this way back when Barrington Stoke were lovely enough to invite me to a Tea Party. I came away from that not just thinking what a lucky thing I am, but also with a little catalogue that was essentially a sweetshop for a greedy little wotsit like me. So many shiny things coming out in 2013! So many intriguing storylines! So many…. random moose babies?
Come on, with a plot like this one, there was no way I was going to not read this! Besides, the author wrote a particular favourite of mine, There Is No Dog (which I will get around to reviewing once I’ve reread it fresh). But anyway, back to moose babies…
It was never going to be easy, being pregnant at 17, but Jess and Nicky were at least expecting their baby to be human. So what on Earth are they going to do when their little girl turns out to be a bouncing baby moose?
This is one very attractive book. You can’t see it here, but the edges of this neat little novella are hot pink. Combined with the lime green, it’s a great combination and I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but this book makes it quite hard not to try. It looks great.
It reads great too. Jess is a fantastic character. She’s the teen every girl wants to be (or at least I know I would have wanted to be); she’s a music DJ, she’s cool, she’s down to Earth and she tells it like it is. Which is partly what makes the whole book so funny. I mean, how can you not laugh when nurses and social workers bound into your room, urging you to bond with ‘Baby Pearson’ and his cute little hooves, mouthing how difficut it can be to face ‘Unique Challenges’ and completely disregarding that the whole reason it’s a ‘Unique Challenge’ is because the baby is a moose. When Nicky explains later about why Moosie should have extensive thumb surgery to develop his talents, it’s Jess who brings him back down to Earth and reminds him that ‘Moose don’t play clarinet’ when Nicky babbles about the possibility of Moosie joining the London Symphony Orchestra. It’s utterly ludicrous and sinfully good fun to snigger along to.
I do think there’s a fair number of tongue-in-cheek pokes at parenting books in here too. You know the ones I mean, the trite phrases and rhetoric that gives parenting a bad name. Take the PONY (Parents Of Non homo-sapien Young) support group Jess
is forced by her mother to see agrees to meet, whose members stubbornly ignore the fact that thier son is an emu or that ‘Sebastian’ the moose gored their labrador to death, and try instead to cope with ‘Unique Challenges’ and the ‘special destinies’ their families face. Rethoric like this doesn’t hide the fact they’re all oblivious to but that Jess sees straight away – their children should not be accepted as anything less than what they are, which is not a human child with a ‘special destiny’ but a flipping moose. Uplifting phrases are all very well, but not much use if you put on your rose-coloured glasses and ignore reality in their favour, and I can’t help feeling some parenting advice sways this way.
The book never looses it’s humourous slant but things do get a little more serious towards the end as Moosie grows up and it becomes clear that what works for human children is not going to work for him. Nicky slips back into parenting rhetoric and after several disatrous events decides to get Moosie tested for all sorts of learning difficulties to help find out how to get him to fit in. Finally, all has been done and tested for that can be done and tested for, and Jess can at last make Nicky understand that it’s not learning difficulties Moosie has but the fact that he’s a moose to start with, and that they as parents need to consider what would be best for him, even if it’s not easy for them. It’s the point of view you never really think about in too much detail, that parents might actually be sad to do some of the things they do or are dreading what’s going to happen to their cute little baby moose. Or that they really don’t want him go rutting and find some trumped up tart of a girl moose to take advantage of him.
Even after reading it a second time, it still astonishs me how much Rosoff manages to pack into such a slim little tome. I can honestly see this being used as the basis of an English lesson, or a PSHE unit. Hopefully being linked to schoolwork isn’t the deathknell it was for certain books I read. In any case, it’s certainly a book that could provoke a lot of discussion, especially on different types of parenting or on specific needs.
I absolutely loved it. Jess was brilliant and it’s just the perfect balance of serious issues of acceptance and parenting with huge bellylaughs and absurdity. A fantastic read.
Oh, and for dyslexic readers, this is a RA of 9, IA Teen. Non-dyslexics, carry on 🙂
Thank you so much to Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy – it made my day. Find it here