Monday, December 10, 2018

Review - The Legend of Chris Moose

The Legend of Chris Moose
by Allen Northcutt
illustrated by Christie Morris
Date: 2011
Publisher: Old Stone Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 48
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Author Allen Northcutt’s fun-filled holiday tale weaves a whimsical “ugly duckling” story of animal friends that love an amiable but tattered moose whose name is “Ugly.” This picture book introduces eleven animal characters in rhyme as they join Ugly on a snowy trip through the woods to Momma and Poppa Bears’ house. There, a Christmas eve party is made very special when Ugly gives unselfishly of himself to overcome a forgotten Christmas tree. The story addresses everyday issues of how “Ugly” names are hurtful and it is not nice to exclude someone from a group because they are different. In the end the animals embrace Ugly as part of their group and change his name to Chris Moose, because it sounds so much like Christmas and is what his spirit is all about. Christie Morris’ captivating and humorous illustrations add magic to this soon-to-be-classic Christmas story.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I have not had good luck with holiday picture books this year. This is just another boring, rushed, ugly book seemingly trotted out just to make a quick buck at Christmas.

First of all, if you're going to write a rhyming story, you need to do more than just rhyme the last words of the second and fourth lines. The meter was way off for most of this book, and it would be pretty awkward to read aloud as a result.

Second, the illustrations are awful. They look like someone drew a bunch of characters on their computer, cut them out and slapped them on backgrounds (not even bothering to clean up the rough edges), and then cranked the saturation sliders up to 100. The pictures are not pleasant to look at. At all.

Third, while I appreciate that the author was trying to make the point about not using ugly nicknames on our friends, the fact of the matter is that the moose's name was Ugly. All the animals getting judgmental about a name that, perhaps, his own parents gave him is pretty arrogant. Why did he need a new name? Because the other animals thought he did? (They called it his "bad old name" at one point.) I don't think that sends a great message to kids who have unusual names they might be teased about. (It's true that Ugly didn't like his name, but when the time came for the change, it was all the other animals who decided it was time, and even came up with the name for him.)

Fourth, I was kind of disturbed by how Ugly was used by his friends as a piece of home decor. Yes, he volunteered, but it still struck me as kind of creepy... like someone with limited mental capacity trying to make friends by letting themselves be used and abused. It made me pretty uncomfortable.

So I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. There are better stories about acceptance and friendship that don't rely on the idea of having to change a part of yourself (like your name) to suit your friends' tastes. Those stories also wouldn't force the main character into being a makeshift Christmas tree to be included.

Thank you to NetGalley and Old Stone Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 1/5
Meter: 1/5
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 1/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall: 1 out of 5

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