Making the Moose Out of Life by Nicholas Oldland

Making the Moose Out of Life by Nicholas Oldland
(Life in the Wild)

Publisher: Kids Can Press
Genre: Childrens, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

From the creator of Big Bear Hug comes the comic-adventure story of a mild-mannered moose who learns how to take life by the antlers. This moose may live in the wild, but he doesn’t act it — he watches from the sidelines as his friends have fun. Every now and then, he wonders if he’s missing out on anything.

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The moose’s unlikely hero-journey is a lighthearted, contemporary fable that celebrates living life to the fullest.

There is such a thing as being too cautious in life.

From what I’ve observed so far, one of Mr. Oldland’s biggest strengths has to do with how inclusively he writes about the struggles his characters face. In this particular case, the moose’s reluctance to try something new could be a hint that he was dealing with any number of mental illnesses that children in real life sometimes develop. The moose’s desire to stick to what he knows could also be understood as a phase that many kids go through or part of his naturally shy personality in general. I loved the fact that this was left up to the reader to decide. It’s something I’d feel equally comfortable reading to a child who had been diagnosed with a specific illness as I would with someone who was simply more reserved than most kids and needed a little encouragement to try new things.

The only thing I would have liked to see done differently in this story had to do with the total lack of a name or nickname for the main character. It’s something I’ve mentioned in reviews of other books in this series. While it’s a minor complaint, it sure would be nice to know what to call all of the interesting characters I’ve met in this universe. The moose had such a well-developed personality in particular that it felt odd to me to not have this piece of information about him. If not for this, I would have chosen a full, five-star rating.

Not every emotion is a cheerful one. The best scenes were the ones that showed how the moose reacted when his first attempts to try new things didn’t turn out the way he was hoping they would. He didn’t know how to react when that happened, and I appreciated the fact that the narrator acknowledged that. There’s something soothing about watching a character experience a setback but refusing to give up.

Making the Moose Out of Life was a gentle and kindhearted adventure that I’d recommend to anyone who wonders if they should take more risks.

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