Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ask Your Mother: Tweak Tweak by Eve Bunting

"Hold onto my tail, Little Elephant," Mama Elephant said. "Today we are going for a walk. If you want to ask me a question, tweak twice."

Brave words for Mama Elephant or for any mother of an inquisitive youngster. The tweaks come fast and keep on coming as the two walk.

"Mama? What is that?"

"That is a beautiful butterfly flying high in the sky."

"Can I fly high in the sky?"

Like all youngsters, Little Elephant wants to try everything she sees. Patiently, Mama explains that little elephants can't exactly float like a butterfly, climb trees like monkeys, jump over a pond like frogs, swim down the river with a crocodile, or sing like a songbird in a fig tree. But little elephants can swish their ears and make a breeze, stomp their feet like thunder, cool down with a whoosh of river water from their trunks, and trumpet with a powerful roar. And best of all, she tells Little Elephant...

"You can grow up to be a big, strong, smart, beautiful elephant."

"Like you, Mama?"

"Yes, just like me."

With that way she has of capturing a small but significant moment between her characters, in her forthcoming Tweak Tweak (Clarion, 2011) Eve Bunting has nailed the essence of parenting here, as Mama helps her youngster understand the world and her place in it with grace and a certain elegance of phrase. Sergio Ruzzier's softly stylized pastel illustrations capture just the right balance of charm and humor to help earn this soon-to-be-published little gem a coveted starred review from Horn Book.

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