My little brother, Moe, is a snail. Mom says Moe loves to dilly-dally. Dad says a sleepy turtle could run circles around him. They think he’s cute. Sloths are cute. Moe’s annoying.
This charming picture book features a first-person account by Moe’s big sister. Moe is a little brother who is slow to do anything, such as going to school or cleaning up his room. His distracted tendencies and refusal to do chores frustrate his big sister, but not his parents. However, his sister observes that, when there are no adults around, Moe is a kid - laughing and quick to chase and play ball. His joy in these moments charms his big sister. She is not sure her parents would believe her if she told them of this change in Moe’s behavior. Although she is conflicted about liking her little brother, she realizes that she loves him, and so it is worth being patient and supportive. Consequently, she decides to keep his 'fast' ways a secret.
The flow of Kerbel’s Slow Moe is gentle, well-paced and engaging for its intended audience of young children ages 3-5. The storyline both validates the individuality of difference and the role of others in appreciating this difference and in practicing empathy. Ferrer’s watercolour illustrations delightfully extend the story, capturing both the emotion of the family as well as the context for the conflict. Moe is depicted as a snail when he is slow, i.e., around adults, and an energetic, running kid, i.e., around other children. Illustrations also depict key elements in the narrator’s mind, such as her thinking that her brother might have been brought to earth by aliens or by showing how Moe eats his cereal “one O at a time”.
Christy den Haan-Veltman, currently a teacher at New Westminster Secondary School in New Westminster, British Columbia, loves books, bikes and the environment.