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Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Tweedles Go Electric, written by Monica Kulling and illustrated by Marie Lafrance. Groudwood, 2014. $16.95 ages 5 and up

"Gas cars are dirty and noisy, and they belch clouds of soot and smoke. Rattling down the road, they shake every tooth in your head - although that doesn't stop people from buying them. But Papa has a different idea. "We're going electric!" he says. "Electric?" everyone shouts at the same time."

There are four in the Tweedle family...Mama, Papa, Frances and Francis. They live their happy lives in the early twentieth century, a time when most people were wanting to own a car. Not the Tweedles; they liked their bicycles. They loved their horse Mercury who took them wherever they needed to go when the distance to travel required it.

Then, Papa makes the decision to keep up with the times. They will buy a car. Their car will not be the same as the other cars their friends and neighbors drive. They are going to buy an electric car! Their community 'pooh-poohs' it. The Tweedles prove that the decision is a good one, although unusual:

"It's electric!" shouts back Papa. He thinks Mr. Hamm admires the electric car.
"It's green," shouts back Mama, smiling and waving.
"It's smart," shouts back Francis, bouncing up and down."

It takes a neighborhood calamity to show that the electric car can be even more dependable and easy to drive than other cars. Mr. Hamm is mighty grateful that Frances has the wherewithal to get in and get him to the doctor's office when needed.

Marie Lafrance uses graphite on paper and mixed media collage to create her muted and detailed illustrations, which were colored in Photoshop. The backgrounds and scenes created will take readers back to an era that has long since disappeared, giving them a real feel for the timing of the story, the clothing worn, and the confusion of driving without clearly drawn road lines, or even clearly shown streets. And, hey! The Tweedles are definitely ahead of their time, opting for a green, shrewd choice in transportation. Check each spread carefully for cleverly added details.

Humorous, informative and entertaining...those are the signs that a book is sure to be read again!     

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