If You Give a Moose a Muffin is different from its predecessor, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, in that in this book, the animal continuously gets distracted from what he originally wanted. Unlike the mouse, who is simply reminded of one thing when he does something else, this moose is reminded of something before he’s even performed the task that reminded him of it! Why, he doesn’t even make it to the store to buy more muffin ingredients, due to being reminded of sock puppets by a button! For this reason, the ending to If You Give a Moose a Muffin is relatively dissimilar to that of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
One of the things I like about the ending to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is that its ending has a similar message to the Native American phrase “All that has happened must happen again.” I will talk about that more when I review If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Since the moose gets distracted from just about every task he’s reminded of, though, the ending to If You Give a Moose a Muffin is less like that and more like “this distractible moose is finally being reminded of the task at hand!”
I like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie a little better for this reason, but I see a definite trade off here. Even though the moose’s being easily distracted gives If You Give a Moose a Muffin a different ending from its predecessor, it also makes the moose character even easier for children to identify with than the mouse character. The mouse character is certainly someone a child can identify with, since he is very active, but the moose is both active and distractible, two traits commonly seen in children. Laura Joffe Numeroff was probably trying to make both characters similar to children, and she may have even decided to make the moose more distractible for this very reason.
As a child, not only did I identify with the moose, I was just as distracted as he was! When hearing the book read to me, I never realized that he didn’t get a muffin at the end. Like him, I forgot that there were no more muffin ingredients! This, I think, is an excellent example of a child identifying with a character who is not a human child. While animal characters abound in children’s literature, not all of them are characters kids can truly identify with. These animal characters definitely are.