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The Picture Book Buzz

Finley: A Moose on the Caboose - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I remember stories my folks told of a mostly friendly moose who wandered through the Anchorage Army base, sticking its head into office windows. I never saw it, but I will never forget the impressive moose I saw on a visit to Yellowstone. Though I don't think it was quite as friendly as Finley! With gorgeous illustrations and delightful humor, this book takes the reader on an Alaskan rail adventure with a loveable, determined moose.

Finley: A Moose on the Caboose

Author: Candace Spizzirri

Illustrator: Burgen Thorne and Chantelle Thorne

Publisher: Gnome Road Publishing (2023)

Ages: 4-8



Determination. moose, trains, and changing the rules.


"Rules are rules” and wild animals aren’t allowed on trains . . . or so says Conductor Jones.

Young adventurers will fall in love with Finley, a friendly moose with a toothy grin who wants nothing more than to ride the rails across Alaska and beyond. Prepare for giggles when Finley finds a costume shop and tries to pass for anything but wild, only to have Conductor Jones see right through these disguises. Fortunately, Finley has something Conductor Jones doesn’t see coming - heart and determination – showing us all that there are some rules in life that are meant to be changed.

With illustrations that capture both the essence of Finley’s spirit and the magic of an Alaskan railway adventure, Finley: A Moose on the Caboose is certain to be loved by anyone who dreams of making what seems impossible, possible.

Opening Lines:

Each morning

when the train chugga-chugged

into Talkeetna station,


the friendliest moose,

greeted passengers

with his toothy grin.

What I LOVED about this book:

What a great opening and Chantelle and Burgen Thorne's illustration totally captures Finley's personality and the excitement of the tourists. I love all the little details - the steam from the brakes, the smiling engineer, and the sweet blue bird. It is just such a welcoming opening. But of course observant readers will note the sign - "No Wild Animals Allowed" created for readers and non-readers.

Text © Candace Spizzirri, 2023. Image © Burgen Thorne and Chantelle Thorne, 2023.

As this adorable moose listened to the travelers describe their adventures, his "dreams of riding the rails grew" until he couldn't bear it and Finley and his blue bird companion excitedly hopped aboard the caboose. They are determined to explore distant destinations. However, rule-following Conductor Jones has other ideas . . .

Text © Candace Spizzirri, 2023. Image © Burgen Thorne and Chantelle Thorne, 2023.

Setting up a fun refrain, "Finley clopped from the caboose, trudged across the tracks, and disappeared into the woods." And a magnificent series of attempts by Finley to "sneak" onboard the train. His various concealments and hilarious costumes (including a 'moose-dog' with a 'mustard bird') will have kids (and adults) snickering and howling. Poor Finley, haunted by dreams of a rule brandishing conductor, he almost gives up getting "to ride the rails," when . . . you're going to have to read the book!

Fun alliteration, onomatopoeia, a sprinkling of rhyme, and a ton of heart combine with colorful, beautifully detailed digital illustrations to create a special book about following ones dreams, facing defeat with grace, and discovering that some rules need to be changed. This book is sure to be a hit with train lovers and animal fans alike.


- make your own adorable cardboard or paper Moose puppet. Write a story or draw a picture of your moose's adventure.

- using egg cartons, corks, toilet paper rolls, or a bunch of boxes to make your own train. Where would you travel on your train?

- draw or describe your own disguise for Findley?

- check out the Educator Resource Guide.

If you missed the interview with Candace Spizzirri on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Finley: A Moose on the Caboose Giveaway

Awesome news! Candace is offering one lucky reader a copy of Finley: A Moose on the Caboose.

- Simply comment below (or on Monday's interview of Candace - or both) to be entered in the random drawing on April 28th.

Be sure to say where (if) you shared the post (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram), and I'll add additional entries for you.

- *Sorry US Residents only.*


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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