Just Imagine

The Adventures of Moose & Mr Brown

Authored by Paul Smith/Jeanne Willis
Illustrated by Sam Usher
Published by Pavilion

A glimpse into the world of fashion and design which needs a critical eye.

Moose and Monty are inseparable identical twins, until they each get on different planes at the airport. The story then follows Moose, who meets world famous fashion designer Mr Brown. Moose keeps Mr Brown company as he travels the world for work, and in return helps Moose look for his brother. On their travels they design clothes for other animals and catch up with Monty in an unlikely place.

The story is jolly and fun and slips along to a satisfying conclusion and I’m sure many children will enjoy it. However, it misses the mark on a few issues. Moose, the organised, smart brother gets a job in Mr Brown’s studio, whereas Monty, who is clearly SEND, ends up as a model. I can’t help but feel this is reductive and enforces the negative beautiful-but-not-bright stereotype. I also didn’t like Moose apologising for being a ‘crybaby’. This sends out the negative message that you shouldn’t show your emotions.

There were touches I did like, such as a nod to Hopper’s Nighthawks painting and some of the famous locations. Usher’s artwork pops with detail and pleasing colours. This is frustrating because I feel the publisher missed a huge opportunity. In a book about design, the artwork could have played a much bigger role in the narrative.

Yes, teach children about design, fashion, and the creative process. These are areas that children might be interested in, but do it in a way that informs and inspires. It just feels like a lesson in consumerism and self-promotion. It makes me wonder whether it was an honest attempt to inspire children through story, or to create another product line for the Paul Smith brand.