How Ozomatli turned its song ‘Moose on the Loose’ into a children’s book

After rocking a generation of kids with a children’s album back in 2012, Grammy-winning Los Angeles group Ozomatli are once again focusing on their young fans.

But this time Ozomatli isn’t reaching the youth through music and is instead dropping a new children’s book.

“For the band, this has been an interesting accomplishment and we’ll see what kind of movement it makes,” said saxophonist Ulises Bella about the group’s latest project, “Moose on the Loose,” a 32-page book that will be available on Sept. 19.

Written by the band and illustrated by Germán Blanco, it follows the lyrics of the breakout song of the same title that appeared on the family-friendly album “Ozomatli presents Ozokidz” more than a decade ago.

That album led the band to perform kid-friendly concerts and appear on shows like PBS Kids. While Ozomatli is known for its mashup of musical styles and lyrics that take on serious cultural issues, the children’s album was filled with educational songs that talked about animals, balloons, exercise, birthday parties and other more lighthearted topics.

“We’ve always been one of those bands that would play for kids at school all the time, so the idea of creating an album for kids popped up and it was really kind of liberating in a way,” Bella said.

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The song “Moose on the Loose,” which is very literally about a moose on the loose, became a hit at concerts, Bella added.

“That one song always kept getting requested, it got a lot of love on the mommy blogs, on satellite radio,” Bella said. The band had always wanted to do a follow-up album, but other musical releases, concerts and then the pandemic delayed those plans, he added.

“So the idea just got thrown around about, hey why don’t we make a kid’s book. And it was just a no-brainer focusing the book on that song because the song had become so popular,” he said.

The colorful pages follow the lyrics of the song as it takes kids into an enchanted forest where they camp, hike, swim in a lake and go fishing. But just like in the song, they start hearing noises in the forest and they realize that, yes, there’s a moose on the loose.

Bella thinks the book may even set the band’s creativity loose in new directions.

“If it makes a splash, it could be one of many different books. We’re happy to cater to that next generation,” he said.

While the band typically puts on an energetic live performance where they end the set by leading conga lines through the audience, a new book may also mean the band will have to perform in different kinds of venues.

“We’ve talked about that, if we release the book in certain places we can make appearances at bookstores or read the book at some schools,” he said.

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