BOOKS: Little Brother Moose & The Tree in the Ancient Forest
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1995:
Little Brother Moose, by James Kasperson, illustrated by Karlyn Holman.
The Tree in the Ancient Forest,
by Carol Reed Jones, illustrated by Christopher Canyon.
Each $6.95/paper or $14.95/cloth, from Dawn Publications
(14618 Tyler Foote Road, Nevada City, CA 95959), 1995.
Attractively and imaginatively
illustrated, Little Brother Moose is modeled
on the Native American tradition of the
Vision Quest, a solo journey in search of
self-understanding that marks the passage
into adulthood––this time made by a moose.
It also resembles the story of an early settler
on the future site of Boston, who moved
west when it got too crowded. Invited back
for a visit by the civic authorities, decades
later, he rode in on a bull, trotted disgusted-
ly through the busy streets, and galloped
west again without even stopping for a drink.
Following a mysterious inner
voice, the young moose for whom the book
is titled wanders from his familiar river of
water alongside a river with a hard surface
and a deadly flow of metal animals with
glowing eyes. Arriving amid tall “cliffs” and
more metal animals, mostly asleep, the
moose doesn’t get a drink, either: a steel
grate interferes. But, helped by a goose, the
moose on the loose finds his way home, hav-
ing learned that civilization isn’t for him.
Few mooses who blunder into urban traffic
are as lucky.
Adults may view Little Brother
M o o s e as a parable about temptation. It
could even be compared to the medieval epic
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. But as
archetypal as Little Brother Moose is, it is
also an original. And children love it.
A Tree In The Ancient Forest f o l-
lows a different classical storyline––the
House that Jack Built. There isn’t a word in
it about the old growth trees that lumberjacks
fell, but there’s plenty, in terms a four-year-
old can understand, about the ecology of a
tree, from the mychorrizal fungi that fix
nitrogen in the soil around the roots to the
birds who inhabit the canopy. Like M o o s e,
T r e e has quickly become a favorite of our
own four-year-old critic, who has always
found nature more fascinating than TV.