Written and Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Philomel Books, 2012
Awards: Junior Children’s Book of the Year (Irish Book Awards)
Wilfred owned a moose. He hadn’t always owned a moose. The moose came to him a while ago and he knew, just KNEW that it was meant to be his.
The plot in a nutshell: A boy tries to teach a moose the rules of being a good pet, but has to sort out the issue of the moose’s true owner.
This instantly likeable book grabs you from the first page, where you meet Wilfred and he introduces you to his moose, Marcel. Wilfred looks a little like a junior hipster, with his suspenders and his bow tie and his record collection. His rules for being a good pet are amusing and tell you quite a bit about his character. My favorite is Rule 7, [subsection b]; maintaining a certain proximity to home. The rules, throughout the book, are written in childish scrawl, so we know that they are Wilfred’s own ideas.
Also throughout the book, author & illustrator Oliver Jeffers gives us thought bubbles with pictures of what Wilfred is thinking or discussing. These pictures are pretty hilarious and give us even further insight into this fascinating little guy. Many of Mr. Jeffers’ drawings are set against beautiful landscape paintings by artist Alexander Dzigurski, which makes the artwork extremely compelling. Your eye is drawn to the characters, but is then pulled away to look at the mountains or trees or rivers in the background.
Along their way, Wilfred has to deal with the reality that Marcel may not actually be HIS moose, when a woman claims to own him herself. We see Wilfred having trouble coping with this issue and getting himself into a spot of trouble overreacting to his anger. When Marcel comes to his assistance, Wilfred assumes he is following one of the rules, but we know it’s because Marcel made the choice to help him…and this leads to a nice compromise between the two at the end. It’s a very satisfying conclusion.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that there is a difference between ownership and friendship and friendship is definitely the better of the two.