Review: Tom’s Tweet by Jill Esbaum

toms tweet

Tom’s Tweet by Jill Esbaum, illustrated by Dan Santat

Tom the cat is on the hunt after a storm when he spots a baby bird on the ground.  But the Tweet is so little and scrawny that it won’t amount to much, so Tom turns away.  But the little bird looks so helpless and alone, that Tom decides to help despite his misgivings.  Tom heads up the tree to return the Tweet to its nest, carrying it in his mouth.  But then the mother bird sees him and she attacks!  Tom has to flee with the Tweet.  After that, he has to figure out how to give it a home.  And (gulp) feed it too.  Tom finally finds a way to get the Tweet back to its nest, but he can’t get it out of his head.   What is a cat to do when he misses a bird?!

Esbaum’s rhymes romp along, and they work well for the most part.  The rhythm is even better, galloping along and creating a brisk pace for the story.  The infectious rhythm makes reading the book aloud great fun.  In fact, I think it reads aloud better than it reads silently.  The story is filled with humor, from Tom’s expressions of “tarnation” and “dadburn it” to the scene where he feeds the little Tweet.

Santat’s illustrations are what take this book to another level.  While the story is funny on its own, it becomes wildly silly with his art.  With its computer smooth feel, it looks as if it was taken right off of a Pixar movie screen.  Children will respond naturally to the style and then enjoy it even more thanks to the humor embedded in it.

Very funny, this picture book will be enjoyed by children looking for a silly read with plenty of heart.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Alfred A. Knopf.

SLJ Best Books of 2011


Another best books list has arrived and it’s from one of my favorite review journals, School Library Journal.  Their list is full of great reads, many matching my own favorites of the year.  To see more than the picture books, just click on the links under In This Article to find the Fiction, Nonfiction and Adult Books 4 Teens.


Review: Lighthouse Christmas by Toni Buzzeo

lighthouse christmas

Lighthouse Christmas by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Frances and her little brother live with their father on the remote island lighthouse of Ledge Light.  Christmas is coming and neither of them are sure that Santa is going to find them there.  So when the children get offered a boat to the mainland to spend Christmas with their relatives there, they have to think about it.  It does mean a Christmas filled with family and holiday spirit.  But on the other hand, they have to leave their father behind to man the lighthouse.  When a nor’easter blows in though, all of their plans have to be set aside.  The storm blows in a stranger also trapped by the weather.  Now the small family have to create their own Christmas together, with a little help from a plane overhead.

This book is based on the true story of the Flying Santa Service, which still continues today to serve the isolated islands in Maine’s Penobscot Bay.   The story has a wonderful, warm feeling of home.  It touches on Christmases spent after losing a loved one as well as Christmases in new homes.  The story also moves from the quiet of the family life to the drama of the storm and then the clearing after the storm passes.  It makes for a pleasing story arc. 

Carpenter’s illustrations help create the warmth of the book.  Done in a traditional style, they work well to also emphasize the story arc.  The story is obviously set in the earlier part of the 20th century, thanks to the clothing and the furniture.  Delicate lines and color washes add to the vintage feel of the illustrations.

An old-fashioned Christmas story, this is a great pick for those looking for an emphasis on family and reality rather than Santa and elves.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.