The Blue Moose

by Ardian Gill

Way up in the North Woods, twin moose babies, Alfonse and Abercrombie, are born. When they grow antlers, they strike out on their own. Soon Abercrombie is captured by two men who take him to Central Park Zoo in New York City. Alfonse escapes but falls through the ice of a frozen lake and turns blue. With the aid of a little yellow bird and advice from an owl, he sets off on his journey to rescue his brother, guided only by the North Star at his back. His quest includes many hilarious encounters in which he comes to the rescue using his antlers and receives medals for his efforts. When he arrives at the zoo he finds that his brother prefers peanuts and popcorn to the acorns of the North Woods and refuses to go back. What will Alfonse do? He wants to be near his brother. He wants to find his beloved yellow bird. Join the intrepid blue moose and be charmed by a story guaranteed to delight readers of all ages.
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Read an excerpt...

Once upon a time, way up in the North Woods, two little moose babies were born. The two brothers played together and slept together and never left each other’s side. If one wanted to sleep, the other would sleep next to him. If one wanted to run through the woods and play, the other would run with him. This was fine with Mr. and Mrs. Moose, because if they called one the other would come too. The trouble was, if they only wanted one little moose to come, they couldn’t do it.

So one day the father moose said to Mrs. Moose,“I think they should have names. Then if we only want one, we can call his name.”

“Good idea,” said Mrs. Moose. “You’ve been learning the alphabet, so you should be able to think of names.”

“Well, I’m only up to the letter A,” said Mr. Moose.“So we’ll have to give them names starting with the letter A.” He thought and thought. “Archie and Albert,” he suggested.

“No,” said Mrs. Moose.“Those sound too much alike. What we need is one short name and one long name.”

They tried all sorts of names, Andrew, Alfred, Arthur, and Axelrod. Finally, the father moose said,“I’ve got it: Alfonse and Abercrombie.”

“Perfect,” said Mrs. Moose, and from that day on the little moose twins were called Alfonse and Abercrombie. The trouble was, the twins looked so much alike that the parents were never sure whether when they called Alfonse, Abercrombie came, or the other way around. So they just called “Alfonse, Abercrombie,” and both twins came, just as before.

One day, when the boys were bigger and had started to grow antlers, the mother grew very sad. She started to sniffle and said to Mr. Moose,“They’ll be leaving us soon. I can tell by the way they’re always tussling and pretending to fight with each other.”

“Not yet,” said Mr. Moose.“They have to grow spikes on their antlers so they can defend themselves.”

Well, that didn’t take very long. The boys strayed farther and farther every day and once they even stayed away all night. In a few weeks, when it began to grow very cold and there was sometimes a little snow, the two moose boys just weren’t little anymore. They were almost as big as their daddy and their antlers had grown spikes, just like his. Now when they wrestled and pretended to fight, their antlers would sometimes get locked together, and once they even had to be pulled apart by their daddy.“That’s it,” he said.“You’re big enough to eat big moose’s food.”

“Yay,” said Alfonse.

“Yay,” said Abercrombie.

The mother was very sad, for she knew her sons would soon be leaving home for good. But she was brave and only said,“Well, it had to happen someday. But remember, you can always find us here in our favorite clearing. Your daddy and I will always be glad to see you. Now your father will show you where to find acorns to eat.”

“Ugh,” said Alfonse.

“Ugh,” said Abercrombie.

But their father said, “Come on now, boys. I’ll show you where the acorns hide.” Well, that sounded like a fun game of hide-and-seek, so the boys bounded off after their father, who took them a long, long way through the woods until they came to a big oak tree in a clearing at the edge of a lake. He snuffled in the leaves and came up with a mouthful of acorns and began to chew them. The boys just stood there watched.

“Ugh,” said Alfonse.

“Ugh,” said Abercrombie.

“Well,” said their father,“you may do as you like, but if you want to be on your own, you’ll have to learn to like acorns. That’s just about all there is to eat in the winter,” and he walked off into the forest, leaving the two brothers staring after him.

“What are we going to do?” Alfonse asked. “Maybe we should go back.”

Abercrombie didn’t answer right away because he was trying hard not to cry. Finally he said, sniffling, “No. We’re big mooses now and we’re on our own.” Then he said, “I’m hungry. I’m not going to eat any old acorns, though. I’m not a squirrel,” and he gave a little sob.

Alfonse began to cry too. Then he said,“But we have to eat something. I’m going to try just one.” And he stuck his nose down into the leaves until he found a pile of acorns. “ They don’t smell too bad,” he said and slurped one into his mouth. As he began to chew he stopped crying, and a big smile lit up his face. “ These are delicious,” he said and stuck his nose into the pile and began to chew.

As he was crunching away, Abercrombie stopped sniffling and crunched his teeth down on an acorn. “Oh, these are good,” he said, “but you’re hogging them all.” And he began to push Alfonse away with his antlers. Alfonse pushed back and pretty soon they were struggling and pushing one another and making so much noise rustling the leaves that they didn’t hear the hunters until one said,“There are two of them. Quick, get the nets.”

The brothers stopped fighting and tried to run, but they found they had locked antlers. They began to pull at one another.“Let go,” Alfonse yelled.

“You let go,” shouted Abercrombie, and they tugged at one another until finally, with a twist of his head, Abercrombie tore loose and ran. He ran right into a net the hunters had spread. He had never felt anything like it. The more he struggled, the tighter the net became, until he couldn’t move at all, and just sat and cried.

His brother heard him crying and ran back just in time to hear one hunter say, “ This is a fine specimen. I bet we can sell him to the Central Park Zoo in New York for a lot of money.”

Alfonse was very scared. He didn’t know what to do. He wanted to rescue his brother but he didn’t know how. He was afraid that if he tried to pull Abercrombie out he would get caught in the net himself. But he couldn’t just leave his brother, so finally he screwed up all his courage and ran into the clearing under the oak tree and made the loudest noise he could. But he was so scared that instead of a loud and frightening “ROOOOOOR” it came out like a little calf ’s “moooo.”

Praise for The Blue Moose...

When twin moose brothers set out to explore the world, they never thought they would end up being separated. Alfonse and Abercrombie get split up when Abercrombie is taken by two men to the Central Park Zoo in New York City. Alfonse escapes but falls into trouble as he goes under the ice of a frozen lake and he turns blue from the cold. But some unlikely friends, a little yellow bird and some wise advise from an owl he, gets out of the ice and goes to find his brother. The only help he now has is the North Star. He finds his brother but his brother doesn't want to leave the zoo. He likes it there. This shows that you can still love each other and be close even is you choose different ways of living. This is a fun read and it shows how inventive the brother was with his antlers. Will Alfonse decide to stay with his brother at the zoo or just visit when he can? This is a charming little story about brothers. You could easily place yourself in like situations and decide what you would do. Children and adults alike will love this little book with some wise lessons to be learned. Using animals is a good way to attract and keep a child's attention.
—Gayle Pace