October 2010

Larger than life

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Determination, problem-solving and friendship are the themes woven into the latest creation by British author-illustrator Catherine Rayner. Told in a mere 15 sentences, Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn’t Fit captures the magic that can happen when someone is willing to think outside the box.

Ernest the moose is large. So large, in fact, that he can't even fit into his own book. With the aid of his buddy, a resolute chipmunk, Ernest endeavors to “shimmy, shift and shuffle” his way onto the page. Continued maneuverings are unsuccessful, but Ernest’s “little friend” has an idea. A roll of masking tape, a pile of paper and a whole lot of time lead the dogged duo to “crinkle, crumple and stick” their way to a solution.

Preschool and school-aged children alike will be delighted by the ingenuity of Rayner’s characters. Large, boldly lettered text is easy to read, simply presented on an intriguing graph paper background. Rayner’s language is playful, with alliteration and nonsensical wordplay, as when Ernest attempts to “squidge, squodge, squeeze” his way into full view. The multimedia illustrations show evidence of pencil line, crackled paint and even fingerprints on Ernest’s loosely painted form. Colorfully hand-drawn papers and final pages executed in gatefold provide a surprising and delightful outcome.

Both children and adults feel out of place and awkward at times, and it is reassuring to imagine that with persistence we, like Ernest, can “fit in perfectly.”

Jennifer Robinson is a Technology and Library Educator in Baltimore.

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