Moose and Magpie by Bettina Restrepo
Illustrated By: Sherry Rogers
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: Sylvan Dell
Publication Date: August 2009
I never thought this day would come. As a diehard fan of Sylvan Dell and their amazing children's books, I have never had anything but good words to say about their books that I've had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. Today, however, I'm going to break the cycle. Today, I'm not going to be able to tell you how much I adored this book; because if I did, it would be nothing more than a boldface lie. For the truth is, I really didn't like this one at all.
From the very start, Moose and Magpie by Bettina Restrepo seemed to feel disconnected and choppy. I wasn't sure where the story was going or if there even was a point.Unfortunately, it seemed like more time was spent building jokes for Magpie to tell than actually building a backbone to the story. Truthfully, even by the end of the story I wasn't really sure what the point of it all was. It could have been to show that while moose begin growing their antlers at a young age they eventually shed them like a snake sheds it's skin. It could have been, but I really don't have a clue. That's what happened in the story, but it was so heavily inundated with jokes, (Which if I'm being honest, many of them weren't even very funny.. even for a little kid.) that Magpie was telling, that it was hard to focus on what, if anything, was actually supposed to be taking place.
I mean no disrespect to the author, as I know each person's taste and style are different. And I know that no matter how popular or unpopular it ends up being, an author's work is like his/her own offspring. Despite my opinion on the book, this is a story that the author undoubtedly slaved over and put her heart into. As a reader though, I can't help but think back to other works published by Sylvan Dell. In doing so, I see much stronger structure to the writing styles which not only aides in the smoothness of each story's flow but also makes them more enjoyable to read.
As far as content is concerned, I really didn't think there was much to the actual storyline in Moose and Magpie. What I will give you though is that there were some good facts interspersed throughout the story every couple of pages. (These were separate from the story, and included in their own little subtext boxes.) It looks like the author attempted to work each fact in to the story itself, but a lot of the times the meaning was lost due to the lack of fluidity in the story telling.
There are, once again, several wonderful education resources to be found at the end of the book in the "Creative Minds" section that all fans of Sylvan Dell have likely come to know and love. In this particular CM section readers won't find as many play along games, but they will find plenty of moose facts ranging from those regarding tangible interaction between real moose and birds, what moose eat, moose antlers and body parts, and to the complete life cycle of the moose. The one game that is included is a fun matching section where readers are asked to match pictures of each moose body part with facts about those parts.
All in all, given the combination of educational facts and the charming illustrations by Sherry Rogers, I'd rate this book somewhere in the middle of the scale. To me it lacked too much in the way of the story, because of this I didn't really sense any passion or excitement coming through. I did appreciate the overall effect of the complete package, but it won't be a book my girls and I read over and over again. As a matter of fact, I'd be good never reading it again, and that makes me quite sad as we always love to read and re-read the titles in our growing Sylvan Dell collection.
OUR RATING: 3 hearts