Perfect Picture Book Friday: Tom’s Tweet

Tom's Tweet by Jill Esbaum, Dan Santat
For today’s Perfect Picture Book, I’ve chosen a new release guaranteed to charm the whiskers off even the crankiest kid. After all, it’s pretty hard to resist a worm-chewing cat (ew!)…

Tom’s Tweet

Tom's Tweet by Jill Esbaum, Dan Santat

Written by: Jill Esbaum
Illustrated by:  Dan  Santat
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (November 8, 2011)
Genre: Picture Book/Fiction
Ages: 5+
Themes/Topics: Animals, Unlikely Friendship, Emotions, Unconditional Love, Acceptance


Opening and Brief Synopsis:
While hunting one morning, right after a storm,
Tom heard an inquisitive “Tweet?”
And there, to his left,
in the rain-dewy grass,
was a flip-flapping, fluttery…

Hello, breakfast!

Tom just wants to have a snack and take a nap…but when he meets a lost and lonely “tweet,” his world turns upside-down. Esbaum’s story shows us how an enemy turns into a reluctant friend, with plenty of hi-jinks (the cat eats worms! the cat builds a nest!) to sustain interest, and a fun final twist that makes readers say “Awwww….”

Tom's Tweet by Jill Esbaum, Dan Santat
Tom's Tweet by Jill Esbaum and Dan Santat

Links to Resources:
This book is so new that it seems no one’s had a chance to devise any activities for it yet. As I mention below, the illustrations are so expressive that the book lends itself wonderfully to a discussion of different emotions. Try these quick activities:

  • Point to each illustration of Tom and ask the child what the cat is feeling.
  • Give the child a hand mirror. Call out different emotions and have the child make a face for each one. This usually leads to the giggles.

Why I Like This Book:  I’ve always liked a good tough-guy-turned-softy story, and Tom’s Tweet is one of the cutest I’ve seen. The silly story is told in rollicking rhyme that keeps the book moving along at a good pace, and the slick and funny illustrations are a hoot. Santat has done a fantastic job of capturing every emotion known to cat, and Tom’s facial expressions add a whole new level to the story.

Book Trailer (complete with piano-playing cat):

Perfect Picture Book Fridays is a shared weekly event started by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill. You can find the entire list of recommended picture books on the Perfect Picture Books page on her blog.

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  1. Oh what fun! Love the trailer — that’s sure to delight kids (and kids at heart, like me). Your suggestion of the mirror activity is a great way to get kids involved. They could also talk about how sometimes people (and cats) act in surprising ways, and perhaps find other examples of animals going against what their instincts lead us to expect, to help another animal of another species (I’m sure it happens in real life, as well.)

    Thanks, Renee!

  2. This book sounds delightful, and I’m so glad you were ingenious enough to come up with some activities when you couldn’t find any out there already – that makes you activities triply useful 🙂 Can’t wait to read this one!

  3. I can’t wait to find this book. It looks hilarious! I agree, it does happen in real life. We had a dog and cat that used to sleep together. 🙂

    Great review, loved the trailer!

  4. I like to see how tough guys turn soft too. Thanks for sharing this book. I also appreciate more current books. As it seems our recent library finds as well as our book collection is more “classic” books.

    1. Exactly, Stacy! Since I live in Italy with no access to an English-language library, I have to buy all the PBs — so I’m careful about what I buy and am really trying to build a library of NEW classics. Plus, it’s important for us to stay current with what’s up in the market, so most of the books (but not all) I review will be more recent releases.

  5. I just received “Tom’s Tweet” this week. I had requested it from my library after reading your wonderful review.

    I thought it was a stunner! Just perfect in every way. I loved the story, the pace, the rhyme, the illustrations – everything from beginning to end! For me, this was one I will buy and study.

    My daughter did *not* love this book, which stunned me. Tom’s willingness to chew up the worm for his tweet totally turned her off. She did not even want to finish the book! Maybe because I am reading it from the parent’s perspective, that scene made me say “Awww…!” It’s true that a parent often finds him/herself doing things for their child that they would never have contemplated doing. Oookie diaper changes for one!

    Would love to hear feedback from other child perspectives!

    1. Hi Cathy! I admit the worm scene turned me off, too, just because it’s gross. But I have two boys, and I’m willing to wager they will like it when they’re old enough for it.

      However, I do think it’s an excellent book to study for structure, language, and character. Jill Esbaum did such a bang-up job with Tom’s character through his dialogue, using language I don’t think I would ever have thought of. Such a great example, too, of how to tell a FULL and complex story in rhyme (rather than just a series of cute verses with a tiny conflict thrown in). I think the book is masterful in many ways.

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