April 26, 2022

Finding Moose

Written by Sue Farrell Holler
Illustrated by Jennifer Faria
Pajama Press
32 pp.
Ages 3-6
April 2022

Sue Farrell Holler and Jennifer Faria first introduced us to this grandfather and grandson in their first picture book collaboration, Raven, Rabbit, Deer (2020). That winter walk, which demonstrated a solid and heartfelt inter-generational relationship, was the means for teaching Ojibwemowin vocabulary related to the natural world and for connecting between people and place. Finding Moose strengthens that mission but now the two companions venture out into the early spring when cold and ice give way to buds and awakenings and they can search for a moose (mooz).
From Finding Moose by Sue Farrell Holler, illus. by Jennifer Faria
As they walk, Grandpa instructs the child to be mindful of the noise he makes, the sounds in the forest, the evidence of life and more. 
Soft footsteps and gentle voices.
Quiet as mice and rabbits and deer.
With patience and attention, Grandpa points out moose droppings and nibbles on branches where the moose ate. As they walk and sit and watch and listen, the two are a study of differences and similarities. Old and young, still and active, teacher and student. And there is much to experience in the woods.
From Finding Moose by Sue Farrell Holler, illus. by Jennifer Faria
The child reasonably connects all that his grandfather points out with his own experiences. The chewings of the beaver (amik) reflect his biting of an apple. The softness of the pussy willows (ziisigobimizhiig) bring to mind kittens. And he notes that they are only finding only boy prints and Grandpa prints, not moose footprints. But after much scrutiny, including the spotting of chipmunks, geese, woodpeckers, tiny purple flowers and rosehips (oginiig), the two head home, accepting that today would not be a day to find moose. Or would it?
From Finding Moose by Sue Farrell Holler, illus. by Jennifer Faria
Finding Moose is as contemplative and instructive as Sue Farrell Holler and Jennifer Faria's earlier picture book. Sue Farrell Holler gives Grandpa the wisdom of age and experience and the boy that of fascination and connection. Together they experience nature fully but perhaps in different ways. A walk in the woods becomes a sensory adventure without the drama and high-octane action that can be tiresome and ephemeral. Instead, the two walk and look. They are one with each other and the world. That patience and calm is carried with Jennifer Faria's illustrations. Her acrylic paintings are often reflective of a Woodland Art style (see the flowers in the illustration above), emphasizing line and shape and keeping the story grounded in tranquility and reality. Even her choice of colour expresses that oneness with nature, playing the browns and blues with occasional flashes of red or a shamrock green.

From endpapers of Finding Moose by Sue Farrell Holler, illus. by Jennifer Faria
For a lovely early spring walk, learning about nature and being introduced to words in Ojibwemowin, join an Anishinaabe grandfather with his grandson to see how forest life reveals itself and search for an elusive mooz.

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