cover image Tom’s Tweet

Tom’s Tweet

Jill Esbaum, illus. by Dan Santat. Knopf, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-375-85171-1

Going against his nature, a bullying tomcat takes pity on a baby bird in this sweet-natured singsong rhyme. When Tom spies a brown chick lost on the lawn, he snarls, “Hello, breakfast.” Upon closer inspection, though, he declares, “Dadburn it!... You’re too skinny to eat,” and a closeup shows the bird’s tearful eyes and quivering orange beak. (Alluding to old Warner Bros. cartoons, Esbaum reintroduces creative curses like “Dagnabbit” and “Tarnation.”) Gently holding the baby by its head feathers and enduring the desperate assaults of “Mama Tweet,” Tom tries to return his “tweet” to the nest; when that fails, he attempts to build the bird a nest and even digs for worms and pre-chews them for his adoptee. Finally, when the bird curls up to him “like an unwanted burr.... from deep down in his chest came a... purrrrr.” Using digital media that suggest a magic marker-watercolor combination, Santat (The Secret Life of Walter Kitty) creates chiaroscuro illustrations of the beefy tabby and slender bird that draw out the humor of Esbaum’s (Stanza) portrait of Tom as a tough guy done in by cuteness. Ages 5–8. (Nov.)