Mama Says! Stay Close to Mama by Tony Buzzeo
BENEATH THE BRIGHT YELLOW SUN
IN THE HIGH GRASS,
TWIGA PEEKS FROM UNDER HIS TALL, TALL MAMA.
OH, FAR OFF, TWIGA SMELLS SOMETHING SWEET.
TWIGA LOOKS AWAY FROM HIS TALL, TALL MAMA.
Mama is a wise mama, and she knows just what that faraway look means. Baby Twiga wants to roam far afield from his watchful mother. Mama is tall and Mama knows what dangers lie out there on the savanna for a little giraffe calf apart from his mother.
But her warnings are little heeded. Young Twiga heads off, following that tantalizing smell, so curious to know what is out there beyond his mama's side.
His first encounter with biting ants in a tall hill doesn't go well. But Twiga's youthful curiosity is not satiated, and when he spots the water shining and sparkling below, he ignores Mama's warning to stay close and ventures out onto the squishy, swampy shore, with his worried mama close behind. Just as he stretches down toward that temptingly cool water he sees that someone else lives under that water.
TWO EYES STARE ABOVE SNAPPING JAWS.
But even the threat of the crocodile's jaws isn't quite enough to deter Twiga. It is only when he trots off after that siren sweet smell and toward a low-hanging tree, oblivious of a dangling and ominously spotted tail above, that he finds himself in deep, deep trouble. At the other end of that spotted tail is a leopard, and baby giraffe is just the deliciously sweet smell that he has been looking for.
Little Twiga finally listens to Mama. Grabbing one of the sweet sausage fruits, Twiga gallops back to Mama and safety beneath her just in time to escape the leopard's claws. But has Twiga learned his lesson?
He's still looking away at the wide world.
It's the age-old story of mothers and their little ones. Young ones look out at the world and can't wait for maturity to set in before they venture away from the safety of mama's eyes. Tony Buzzeo tells this familiar story well, in simple but flowing prose, and illustrator Mike Wohnoutka catches that innocence and curiosity in little Twiga's venturesome gaze in a bright, sun-splashed palette in their latest, Stay Close to Mama (Hyperion, 2012).