CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 23 . . . . February 17, 2012
Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books (Distributed by Raincoast Books), 2011.
44 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
Preschool-grade 2 /Ages 3-7.
Review by Meredith Cleversey.
It was rumored that Wazzyjump was a magical creature. Some animals thought he could run impossibly fast. Others thought he could disappear at will. But no one really knew what powers he possessed.
Wazzyjump was also the most mysterious of the forest creatures. The other animals had only ever caught a glimpse of him from behind as he darted through the woods.
When the ruler of all beasts, a great lion, visited the forest he heard tales of Wazzyjump. Lion could not stand the thought that any creature was more special than he. He vowed to capture Wazzyjump so he could take the creature’s magic for himself, no matter what it was.
Wazzyjump is a rabbit with a special, secret magic. Everyone knows about Wazzyjump, but no one really understands what his magic does. When Lion hears of this mysterious animal, he decides that he wants Wazzyjump’s magic for himself, and he tells the other animals in the forest to help him find the creature. Because Fox doesn’t think Lion should get all of the special magic, he sets out to find Wazzyjump for his own purposes. But can Wazzyjump’s magic be stolen? These two selfish creatures are going to find out, and they might just get a taste of the curious rabbit’s power along the way.
Wazzyjump, written and illustrated by Michael Moniz, is a wonderfully enchanting tale. The story is of a lion and a fox who are both trying to snatch a rabbit’s supposed magic for themselves. It seems like a traditional sort of tale, though it’s kept interesting by the fact that it’s hard to figure out exactly where the story will go while you are reading it. While a story like this has the potential to be sad or disturbing in its conclusion, Wazzyjump is not so. This is a very gentle tale, and its resolution is definitely a happy one, with a simple message about the power of joy and friendship. Wazzyjump is a story that will likely appeal to those wanting something light-hearted and fun, but something that has the wonders and magic of a tale set “A long time ago, in a big wooded forest not so far away.”
The characters in Wazzyjump, shown both through the text of the story as well as through the illustrations, are terrifically suited to this tale. Lion and Fox are misguided, though not altogether unlikeable characters; Lion is very regal (something beautifully highlighted by the illustrations), and Fox is clever and perseveres in his search for the rabbit even after everyone else has given up. Bear, a secondary character in the story, is lovably lazy, and the various birds and other woodland creatures are sometimes visually striking, and at other times are adorably drawn. Wazzyjump, too, is very interesting, since, even though he is the title character of the story, he is an intriguingly mysterious rabbit. He does not have any active thoughts or words in the story, and ultimately it is left up to the reader to determine exactly what the nature of his magic actually is, adding an extra element of fun for the reader.
Michael Moniz is primarily a painter, and it is the illustrations in Wazzyjump that really shine. The images in this story are done with a hazy look to them. This, coupled with the use of gentle colours, like soft yellow and pastel blue, make the illustrations cheerful and bright, a tone that fits perfectly with the story being told. There is a lot of movement in these images as well. Birds, butterflies, and other wispy objects give every page of this book a great sense of movement, and the animals, themselves, are painted with curves and wisps that mimic fur swaying in a breeze. These images also have an overarching innocence to them; the light colours, joyful images, and even the use of small, black dots for the animals’ eyes make the illustrations more accessible to a younger audience since the text, itself, may be of greater interest to a slightly older group.
Michael Moniz’s Wazzyjump is a delightful tale of mystery, discovery, and friendship. The story of Wazzyjump and his woodland friends is cute and charming. The illustrations are full of happy innocence, and they really highlight the talents of Moniz and his passion for painting. The wonder of Wazzyjump is present in each page of this tale, and it will be a great read for those looking for a good story told in a classically magical way.
Meredith Cleversey, a librarian who lives in Cambridge, ON, loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.
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