RELEASE DATE: 20/01/2022
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
Agent Moose is one of those wonderful graphic novels you just breeze through and it makes your day better. Aimed at young readers – I’d recommend it for ages 7+ – it follows the hilarious adventures of Special Agent Anonymoose and his assistant Owlfred as they rush to investigate their one hundredth case. O’Hara’s story combined with Bradley’s illustrations makes this a wonderful book for children to both start exploring reading on their own, as well as deep-dive into reading adventures accompanied by a parent. It is full of funny moments, unique animal characters and just adorable quirkiness. Anonymoose is your typical blundering, arrogant agent, and Owlfred is the sidekick with the plans, but together, they charm their way into your hearts so quickly that you just end up wanting more.
Many thanks to Kiran from Scholastic for sending me a review copy and having me on the blog tour – all opinions are my own as usual. Do check out the other stops on the tour for more amazing content all around Anonymoose, Owlfred and the gang.
ON WRITING ANIMAL STORIES – BY MO O’HARA
People have been telling stories about animals for as far back as… well…as far back as people have been telling stories. When early cave people sat around the campfire and exaggerated the size of the bear they fought or the mammoth they hunted they were beginning a tradition of animal stories that continues today. Myths, legends, and fables all have used animals in lieu of people to get their messages across. But why?
Well, there is a certain shorthand with animals and associated characteristics. You can be brave as a lion, quiet as a mouse, clever as a chimpanzee, stealthy as a fox, sneaky as a snake, wise as an owl or curious as a cat. The list goes on and on. So, when we are writing about animals its fun to explore those connotations that animals have associated with them and to sometimes write animal characters that work against those types. A lion that is timid? An owl that is easily confused? A mouse that is very very loud? It’s a great start for a story because you already have a built-in conflict between your character and the expectations of that animal character.
Also, when you are writing for kids you have the added bonus that kids just love reading about animals. Zoo animals, wild animals, farm animals, sea animals, pets? It doesn’t matter, kids love them! They are fascinated to find out animal facts but also intrigued to read about what those animals might get up to when no humans are watching. 😊 I regularly imagine the conversations that my two cats have when I’m not here. (And then I sometimes put those imagined cat chats into my books.) In fact, the character of Fang the vampire kitten (from My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series) is entirely inspired by one of my cats.
I think writing with anthropomorphic animals (or animals that behave like people) is fantastic fun as well. Creating the world of Big Forest and populating it with all the varied animals that live in the woods with Agent Moose and Owlfred was brilliant. Whether if was Newt (the newt with the nose for news) who runs the local newspaper or Paula Pelican a criminal in South Shore, or Barry the Barracuda who is not really as scary as he looks, each of the animals has their own story to tell. And when Jess Bradley started illustrating all the characters, they really took on a life of their own. Even lots of the incidental cast of animals that she drew and inserted all had a journey. The poor beaver who works for Camo Chameleon and who is always being crashed into or the chipmunk whose job it is to eat the secret message pods (even though she is digitally intolerant, and they give her gas) ended up being recurring characters because they were just so vivid. I was inspired to write more about them.
Writing about animals is nearly as fun as being around animals. And my cats would like to add that they feel the same about being around humans. Most of the time.