chatting about the moogees with author/illustrator leslie mcguirk


Don’t move a muscle. Word on the street is that the Moogees are on the move!

If you’re really lucky, they just might move in right next door to you. In the meantime, you can read all about them in this fun and whimsical new picture book, The Moogees Move House, written and illustrated by the endlessly creative, and yes, quirky, Leslie McGuirk.

It’s always a treat to see just what Leslie will do next. You may remember the last time she was here to chat about her amazing alphabet book, If Rocks Could Sing (Tricycle Press, 2011), or the time before that, when she and co-author Alex von Bidder shared tasty tidbits about Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons Restaurant (Candlewick Press, 2009). Doggone delish!

In The Moogees Move House, a family of fanciful creatures searches for a new home. The perky, picky, peculiar-looking Moogees want something round, on the ground, “with class and a nice wide yard and plenty of grass.” With the help of Moogee realtor Mr. Ruru, they see and then reject homes that are too blue, too expensive, and too cheesy (if it were me, I’d move in immediately with a lifetime stash of crackers). Will they ever find just the right house? And what do the three baby Moogees know all along, as they scream, waa waa moogee doogee wee wee low lum!?

Naturally, I was mucho intrigued with these hilarious house hunters. Though Leslie had me at the cheese house, the more time I spent in Moogeeville with its funky architecture, orange and pink trees, pet snails, and ferocious driveway statues, the more I wanted to hear about the genesis of these oddly endearing moovers and shakers with their spirally schnozzes (is it just me, or do they resemble cheese danishes?). Jump in the Moogee mobile, friends; let’s go for a ride!

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Just what are Moogees, Leslie? Why did they want you to write about them? Which came first – a picture, their name or characteristics, or a storyline?

A Moogee is an animal that is a cross between a Pig and a Pug . . . only more mystical, like a Unicorn! They think they are beautiful. They are quite vain, too. Their skin is super soft and shiny, like satin. Each Moogee has a different pattern on their skin so you can tell them apart.

I first drew a Moogee when I was about 23. The drawing came first. I looked at what I had drawn and named it a Moogee. It is pronounced MOO, like the cow sound, and then you pronounce “GUY” the French way.

more rough art
Rough art from when Leslie was 23.

Why is this book so special to you?

This book is special to me because it is so pure and charming and funny. I do not know if I could write this book now. It came out of a younger brain and I was different then. Every tree, every house, every creature in Moogeeville is something brand new.

The book was originally called THE QUEST FOR THE BEST, and it was rejected for many many years, so it means a lot to me that Candlewick took a chance and published it. I hope this is the first of many Moogee books. I have several others that I wrote in my 20’s that are just waiting to be polished up. I kept the original art style, but just made it neater.

cover idea not selected
Cover idea not selected
another cover idea not selected
and another

Which of the houses in the book is your favorite and why?

My favorite house is the one they finally move into because it is the only one that isn’t strange. I think the cheese house is funny. Mr. Ruru the realtor loves to eat cheese, so he wants to live in it . . . but it’s all about him at that point. He is not really thinking of the Moogee family when he shows it to them. The idea of living inside food makes me smile.

Leslie’s childhood home.


Did you move a lot when you were a kid?

Yes, we moved several times before I turned 6, so I am sure this had an impact on me. You get all cozy and nicely settled and then your parents tell you, “time to move again.” It can be stressful for children. I can remember going with my parents and realtors, even as an older child. The process of house hunting was fascinating to me. I loved looking at how other people lived. When you are a child, and you get to go inside a total stranger’s house, it can be a very curious experience.

View of the ocean from the end of the street where Leslie lives today.

Describe your dream home.

My dream home would be on lots of land, and preferably near water . . . either the ocean or a lake. I’ve never lived on a river but I guess that could be interesting to always see the water just go one way. A swimming pool would be nice. My house would have big open rooms with high ceilings and lots of light and wood.

in progress
In progress: check out the pet snail tied to the tree.

How did you make the pictures? Do you have a favorite spread?

I drew the pictures with a pen and then used markers to color them in. This is the first time I have done a book this way. Usually I use gouache paint. I guess my favorite spread is the one with all the statues lining the driveway, and the baby Moogees are copying what the statues are doing. I love to draw this way . . . where everything is fanciful. This is my favorite type of art to create. I hope I get to do more of this in the future.


rough of round house 500
Moogee moving motivation: they didn’t like their house on stilts with too many stairs.

Moogees would make great stuffed animals! Any plans along those lines? 

I want a Moogee stuffed animal too. They would be so cool to pet with their satin skin. I don’t know what they would look like from the front! I have trouble drawing them face on, but maybe a stuffed animal maker could figure it out.

rough cover sketch moogees
Yet another rejected cover idea.

You’ve also ventured into the world of interactive apps since your last visit. Please tell us all about the new Wiggens book.

The latest book is WIGGENS MAKES FRIENDS AT THE ZOO, which takes place at the San Diego Zoo. You can go to iTunes and download the app for the story. It is just a couple bucks and you have a totally awesome interactive book for children, with many drill downs. A child and an adult will be entertained for a long time.

wiggens zoo cover (2)500
(click to learn more about this very cool app at iTunes)
leslie and alex (2)500
Leslie (center) with co-author Alex von Bidder at the San Diego Zoo.

What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on 3 books. The first is another book about my collection of rock letters.  I have just finished coming up with the rough concept and sample photos. I think it is a winner and a totally unusual book. I am also starting my first adult nonfiction book on astrology. My goal is to bring astrology to people in a creative and down to earth manner. It is not meant to be used as fortune telling. It is simply a language of understanding.

It is a brilliant and ancient science, and more people could be helped by it . . . it they only understood it better. I have been studying astrology for over 30 years and have been a professional astrologer for 10. It’s time for me to take this love of astrology out into the world. And lastly, I am working on my next TUCKER book with Candlewick Press. It’s going to be about Thanksgiving.

Good luck with all your projects, Leslie, and thanks for stopping by today!

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written and illustrated by Leslie McGuirk
published by Candlewick Press, 2012
Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.
Cool themes: families, moving, social situations, fantasy, humor, houses and habitats

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Leslie talks about her love for picture books and Moogees:

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♥ For more about Leslie and all her books, visit McGuirk’s Quirks.

Home, Sweet Cheese

waa waa moogee doogee wee wee low lum!

Movin’ on . . .


*THE MOOGEES MOVE HOUSE. Text and illustrations copyright © 2012 Leslie McGuirk. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

12 thoughts on “chatting about the moogees with author/illustrator leslie mcguirk

    1. Definitely a fun read aloud. As Leslie mentions in the video, just the sound of the word “moogee” has the little ones giggling. 😀


  1. I think I could have used this book about moving Moogees last month, Jama! It looks great, & a fun read aloud for younger students, & the adults who read to them. I have If Rocks Could Sing, & look forward to Leslie’s next rock book. Thanks for a terrific interview!


    1. I can’t wait to see the next rock book too — do you think it will be numbers instead of letters?

      You’re a veteran moogee mover, Linda — and it’s nice to know you’ve found just the right house! I still want to live inside food :).


  2. I have many many of McGuirk’s children’s books for when my grandchildren come to visit, but I often sit down to read and look through them myself. Leslie’s books are joyful for adults too.


    1. I agree — books that appeal to all ages are my favorites. A good way to keep the child inside us alive, and a good reminder not to take ourselves so seriously all the time. Thanks for the nice comment, Maria :).


  3. Bring on the Moogees! More Moogees! More Moogees! I hope this is just the first of ten million buzillion Moogee books. THE WORLD NEEDS MORE MOOGEES!


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