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The Ballad of Wilbur and the Moose    by John Stadler order for
Ballad of Wilbur and the Moose
by John Stadler
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2008 (1989)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is a reissued and revised edition of John Stadler's acclaimed Ballad of Wilbur and the Moose, originally published in 1989. It's a tale (told in rollicking verse and amusingly illustrated) of 'surely the weirdest cowboy / That ever hit the trail.'

Whiskers sings the wacky ballad on his old banjo to cowboys - and their equally attentive horses - clustered around a fire: 'His name was Wilbur Little, / And he always drank lime juice. / He herded pigs for a living / And rode a big blue moose.' The moose, it turns out, is a heavyweight boxer named Alvin who teamed up with Wilbur while hitchhiking west.

Together, they collect pigs - a reader, a singer, a cook, and ten more won from a gambler (he's a sore loser). 'They found more pigs along the way / And offered each the job / Of walking round and oinking / And eating like a slob.' When the villain of the piece invades their hog Eden with pig-rustlers, it's Wilbur, Alvin - and a cascade of lime juice - to the rescue!

The Ballad of Wilbur and the Moose is wild, wacky fun. Kids of all ages will celebrate its rescue from obscurity - and its pugnacious ending.

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