Title: This Moose Belongs to Me
Author/Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: 2012
Audience: Kindergarten-2nd grade
Summary: A moose appears in Wilfred’s yard and Wilfred is sure that it is meant to be his. He tags the moose with the name Marcel and then begins to explain the rules to his oblivious pet. Marcel obeys only the rules that fit his plans. One day Wilbur is marking the trail with string as he follows Marcel. A woman appears to claim the moose as her own, calling him Rodrigo. “This moose belongs to me,“ says Wilfred but Marcel is more interested in the lady and her apples. Wilfred runs away in anger, trips, is entangled in his string, and lies there helplessly until Marcel comes along and performs Rule #73 brilliantly: Rescue your owner from perilous situations. Wilfred has to admit that he has never really owned the moose anyway and so he and Marcel (he thinks) work out a compromise about rules and ownership.
Literary elements at work in the story: Wilbur is a small, cartoon-like figure set in a large, realistic outdoor setting. Pictures are essential for the slight story about a boy and a moose with different viewpoints about ownership and rules. When Wilbur, for example, is making plans for activities with Marcel there are bubble-encased pictures of the moose riding waves with the boy on his back. Children will laugh at the situations depicted and ask for additional readings.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Not applicable.
Theological Conversation Partners: Some books are meant to be read for fun; this is one of them. We should encourage children to give thanks to God for authors and illustrators who give us pleasure. It is best to mention Oliver Jeffers by name. That said, This Moose Belongs to Me can furnish conversation subjects but don’t think you’ve wasted time if you never get to these. You have simply enjoyed one of God’s good gifts. God gave human beings responsibility for the world and the animals in it. We have emphasized domination and so face a world with declining species. (Genesis 1,2; Psalm 8) Like Wilfred, we are inclined to emphasize our control of animals, their service to us, rather than our stewardship. “Mine” is a word that Christians should use carefully since the world and everything in it belongs to God. ( Ps 24). For young children ownership is significant and the fact that Wilbur may actually “belong” to three different people will be worth discussing. Rules are an important part of life. Rules and law, in the biblical sense, however, are not quite the same thing. Thinking about the difference can be valuable.
Faith Talk Questions:
- Do you have a pet? How do you care for your pet?
- Does your pet have rules to follow? Do you have rules to follow in caring for your pet?
- How did Wilbur know the moose was his?
- Did Wilbur seem to have any responsibility for Marcel?
- Did Wilbur himself have any rules to follow?
- In what sense do you “own” your pet?
- In Genesis 2:28 God says to Adam and Eve…”have dominion over fish, birds, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Another translation says, “be in charge of.” What does this mean for us?
- Does your city have rules about where animals can be? About animals getting vaccinated? Does it have a place for keeping stray animals? A plan for adopting stray animals?
This review was written by regular contributor Virginia Thomas.
This Moose Belongs To Me by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.