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Friday, August 14, 2015

The Tweedles Go Online, written by Monica Kulling and illustrated by Marie Lafrance. Groundwood, 2015. l$16.95 ages 5 and up

"All afternoon Mama made pickles and thought about how handy it would be to order groceries by telephone. At supper Mama made a surprise announcement. "We are going online! We are getting a telephone." Frances, or Franny as her friends called her, shouted, "Goody Gumdrops!"

Poor Mama! She doesn't want Mrs. Hamm to have what she doesn't have. So, after talking with her neighbor about how wonderful it is to be 'online', Mama orders up a telephone to be installed in the Tweedle house, too.

Franny is delighted and can't wait to talk with friends. Frankie is not at all impressed because it isn't a car, and you can't drive it. Papa doesn't like the idea of losing the family's privacy. Family members initially admit that they are fascinated by the telephone's presence in their lives. Franny is quick to master using it, as she has been secretly wanting one for a while now. Mama takes a call and talks to her neighbor for enough time that the family has retired for the evening when the call is completed.

Papa is still getting used to his new car. He wants to master one new invention before attempting to learn about another. He does use it once to clear up a parting message from his wife.

"Isn't it amazing? You are there, miles
away in the city, and I am here and we can talk
to each other."
"It is amazing," agreed Papa. "But I have nothing
to say."

The noise from the telephone's ringing interrupts family fun. The constant ringing is enough to make even Franny disconnect the bells, meaning they do miss one important call from Mrs. Hamm concerning smoke coming from the coach house. False alarm. No fire! Mama is convinced that the telephone is their 'lifeline'. Other family members are not so sure. So, it's back to crokinole they go!

Marie Lafrance uses graphite on paper and mixed media collage, then colored in Photoshop to transport readers to the early 20th century. The tones are quiet, and perfect for showing older fashions in both finery and hairstyle. Her expressive faces add to our enjoyment of this cautionary tale about what happens when 'new' replaces  'old', not always with the best results.

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