Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, January 30, 2012

If Laughter Is The Best Medicine, Then I'm Going To Live Forever

I started laughing as soon as I saw the front and back covers; big ole' cat a toothy grin smeared across his face, a glazed look in his eyes, a clueless baby bird ripe for the taking smack dab in front of him.  Leaves and burrs clinging all over his fur have readers asking, "What is going on?"  Front endpapers sporting the tiny chirper beak wide open too many tweets to count issuing forth.  Back endpapers covered in tweets a large top half of the cat's face, ears ringing and eyes showing him on the verge of going bonkers paints a pretty clear picture.

Tom's Tweet written by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Dan Santat is a testament to the limits of
patience and its eventual rewards.  On an early morning stroll after a storm crusin' for a bite, Tom spots what he believes to be a tasty little morsel.  Upon closer inspection he finds that he is unable to eat this pathetic specimen.  To his amazement he feels obligated to plop it back into its nest. 

Unfortunately for Tom, Mama bird flies home just as he makes it halfway up the tree.  Barely escaping by skulking through the garden, Tom still has the young bird tweeting like no tomorrow between his teeth.  What to do?  Why won't this frenzied fledgling be silent?

Does it need a nest?  Certainly it does not need one like his architecturally challenged creation.  Is it hungry?  Digging deep for worms does not work.  Ugh!  Only when he chews them into mushy, sliminess does the tweeting stop.

Satisfied the little babe snuggles under his armpit.  Despite his resistance, Tom, too, drifts off to dreamland with his new charge.  When mama bird flies to forage, Tom takes him home to his siblings. 

Tom's sleep that night is restless. Could it be he misses that pesky pest?  Sunrise brings surprises and satisfaction.

Jill Esbaum's sharp, snappy narrative snares readers from page one maintaining its hold as the most unlikely of situations unfolds.  Just the simple fact of a cat becoming attached to a baby bird is humorous enough but Tom's frustrated dialogue takes it over the top.

"Consarn it," Tom grumbled.  "Now what do I do?  Just my luck to get stuck with a tweet."

Tom scritch-scratched and dug in the storm-puddled mud for the juiciest worms he could find.  But the tweet wouldn't eat; it was waiting for...something.  Tom gasped, "Are you out of your mind?"

Within a twenty-four hour time span, as readers snort and squeal with laughter, Tom goes from snack searcher to napping nanny.

Dan Santat is an absolute king of comedic illustration.  Using Photoshop for his pictures humor is evident in every line, color choice, graphic size and placement on the page.  His interpretation of the text using exaggerated gestures and facial expressions doubles the hilarity.  Santat must have laughter running in his veins extending from his fingertips to the printed page; the close-up of the crestfallen tweet eyes mirroring the retreating Tom, mama bird attacking Tom with the tweet gingerly held in his teeth, Tom's extended arm below ground searching for worms and the two new friends napping on the patio.

Jill Esbaum and Dan Santat are a match made in heaven; a collaborative combo we need to see more of as soon as possible.  I can't wait to read this aloud to each and every one of my classes.  This kind of funny is meant to be shared and shared often.  Lucky me.

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