Reviews for Is for Musk Ox

Booklist Reviews 2012 December #1
Children who feel too sophisticated to go through the usual drills offered by many alphabet picture books--apple, bat, cat, and so on--will appreciate the banter between this title's self-important musk ox and his wiser friend, a zebra. The musk ox, tired of being stuck midalphabet, takes things into his own hooves to resignify each letter with "musk ox," with a few exceptions; J is for Joseph, since that is the musk ox's name. Cabatingan's wit is spot-on for the audience, while Myers' oil paintings, which give Joseph and the zebra claymationesque expressiveness, each include a small, visual representation of a more appropriate word for each letter. On the spread for G, for instance, we see the frowning face of the goose, who has been replaced by "G is for musk ox." While the artwork is filled with humorous, sly details, the spreads also feel generously spaced and uncluttered, making this a book that invites lots of repeat visits. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
In this humorous ABC-book parody, a self-centered musk ox sees each letter of the alphabet as a chance to talk about himself: "[cf2]C[cf1] is for musk ox...because...we live in Canada..." The joke is stretched a bit too thin, but Myers's paint is as thick and bulky as his main character's fur, giving the illustrations an almost tactile quality.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #2
Myers' hilarious illustrations strengthen debut author Cabatingan's ticklish prose in this not-quite-an-alphabet book. A frustrated zebra attempts to finagle a confession out of the musk ox, who obviously ate his apple. The musk ox, after admitting his guilt, tries to convince the zebra that he did him a favor since "A is for apple" is "sooo boring." Instead, the book would be far more interesting if every letter of the alphabet corresponded to an attribute of musk oxen. What follows is the morphing of a concept primer into a humorous science (and sometimes pseudoscience) book, as each colorful spread features the zebra's intended example plastered over by the words "musk ox". The "facts" about musk oxen range from ridiculous ("D is for musk ox. Because musk ox are daring") to genuinely interesting ("Q is for musk ox. Because the soft underwool of a musk ox is called Qiviut"). Cabatingan's expansive dialogue misses the humor mark as often as it hits, though, and a poor design choice renders the two characters' lines confusingly indistinguishable (the zebra's words are rendered in a san-serif type, but its color and font are too visually similar to the musk ox's lines), making this a challenging choice for group read-alouds. For audiences already familiar with their alphabet and mature enough to appreciate sophisticated humor, this vibrantly illustrated romp will deliver big laughs. (Picture book. 5-10) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 August #4

Close on the heels of Z Is for Moose, another M animal--a musk ox--monopolizes the alphabet. As in the earlier book, a hapless zebra tries to maintain an orderly alphabet. In this case, though, the megalomaniacal musk ox dominates, teasing his opponent like a pushy older sibling and offering reasons (some better than others) why musk oxen can represent every letter. After eating the letter-A Apple, the ox proclaims, "musk oxen are awesome! Plus, we live in the Arctic, which includes some of Alaska." A baby is displaced by the "brown and black" of ox fur, and a clown shivers on the tundra while the musk ox claims "cool" and "Canada, too." Debut author Cabatingan has an able collaborator in Myers (Tyrannosaurus Dad), who pictures the golden-blond ox as outwardly mellow, at least until the zebra rejects "kool" for K ("Fine. K is for musk ox because musk oxen like to kick anyone who disagrees with them"). Where the moose book is breathlessly zany, this ABC succeeds thanks to its hero's unstoppable swagger. Ages 5-8. Agent: Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. Illustrator's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 October

PreS-Gr 4--A self-involved musk ox and a practical zebra argue their way through this book that pairs each letter with adjectives that can describe or nouns that list characteristics of the musk ox. Written entirely in dialogic exchanges and illustrated in oil on board, with clever collagelike correction tape over the more common alphabet words (apple, baby, clown), the book makes its way from A to Z. The musk ox declares himself awesome, brown, and cool (also, living in Canada). The apple is eaten, "baby" covered over, and the clown shivers in the cold. At the end, Z is for Zebra, our zebra, who is shown posing in an embarrassing photograph of him as a baby. Children will find the dialogue hilarious, and teachers will be able to encourage student re-writes. Read this along with Nick Bruel's Bad Kitty (Roaring Brook, 2005) for older wordsmiths. For younger students, pair it with Mike Lester's A Is for Salad (Grosset & Dunlap, 2000) and Mary Etling and Michael Folsom's classic Q Is for Duck (Clarion, 1980) for some higher-order alphabet guessing games.--Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NC

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