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Meet the Bobs and Tweets by Pepper Springfield, illustrated by Kristy Caldwell, 80 pp, RL 2

Bobs and Tweets written by Pepper Springfield and illustrated by Kristy Caldwell, is a new chapter book series that does something a little different than most bridge chapter books. Springfield's books are written entirely in rhyming quatrains! The Bobs are slobs and the Tweets are neat. Each family has seven members, with the youngest in each breaking the mold. Bob Seven, also known as Dean Bob, is a very tidy fellow and owner of Chopper the dog. Tweet Seven, also known as Lou Tweet, is a right mess and owner of Pretty Kitty. In the first book in this new series, Meet the Bobs and Tweets, worlds collide and a friendship is born. In the second book in the series, Bobs and Tweets: Perfecto Pet Show, Dean and Lou build on their friendship despite their differences and the differences of their families.
Meet the Bobs and Tweets introduces the two very different families to readers while telling the story of how they ended up living right next to each other on Bonefish Street. If you know your beginning reader books, then you know that opposite personalities (think Frog & Toad, Elephant & Piggie, Mouse & Mole, just to name a few) make for some of the best stories. The Bobs and the Tweets fit right into this mold. 
The Seussian rhyming of Springfield's text makes it hard not to think of Thing 1 and Thing 2 tearing through and tearing up the house as readers get a glimpse into the Bob home at the start of the book. Caldwell's energetic, colorfully vivid illustrations enhance Springfield's text, making the seven Bobs seem downright exhausting, both in their enthusiastic pursuit of fun and the mess they leave behind. The Tweets, while neat, are not oppressively so. And they like to get out and exercise together as a family, which is a good thing:

The Tweets wake very early to greet the new day.
They eat a good breakfast, put their dishes away.
The Tweets all do sit-ups till their tummies are sore,
Then on to do yoga, downward dog on the floor.

One thing I especially like about these books is the fairness with which Springfield presents each, very different family. There is no negativity associated with being a slob or being neat, and both families look like they are always having fun and enjoying being together, which is so important.

When the Bobs and Tweets head to the community pool at the same time, chaos ensues. But Dean and Lou think fast and get Lifeguard Mark involved (once they can get him off the phone) and he saves the day by dividing the pool. This gives Dean and Lou the chance to head off for a snack and some quality time sharing books and drawings. 

In Bobs and Tweets: Perfecto Pet Show, Dean and Lou and all the Bobs and Tweets get friendlier and more neighborly. Dean and Lou's teacher, Ms. Pat, brings her menagerie of pets (including a cat named Donald Crews, hopefully named as an homage to the superb author/illustrator and Caldecott Honor winner of favorites in my house, Freight Train and Truck) by way of announcing a Kid-Pet Talent Show. Both Lou and Dean are nervous about their families coming to school, but they prepare to perform with Chopper and Pretty Kitty anyway. The Tweets leave very early on their bikes to get good seats (and have time to clean them) only to suffer a huge crash on a skateboard ramp built by the Bobs and left in the middle of the bike path. The Bobs, by way of apology, fix and trick out the Tweets's bikes and in turn, the Tweets wash and clean the Bobs's minivan. Lou Tweet also gets the chance to help Dean, who gets stage fright when he and Chopper hit the stage. Once again, these two very different families and very different children find ways to work together while also respecting their differences. A very important lesson for young and old today.

An interesting side note, Pepper Springfield is the pen name of Judy Newman, the executive v-p and president of Scholastic Reading Club. If you have a child in school or were a child in school, you might better know the Scholastic Reading Club as that four page, book packed, colorful flier that gets sent home by the teacher, allowing you to order from a great selection of books to be delivered to your student in the classroom. When the first Bobs and Tweets book, which is published by Scholastic, came out last year, Newman maintained her anonymity, even as she did school visits. Discussing this choice in an interview with Publishers Weekly, she says decided to reveal herself and start taking her own advice, advice given to the many, many authors she has worked with (including Dav Pilkey and Jeff Kinney): "Don't be shy, don't hold back, reach out to people you know, celebrate your book." In another interesting note, perusing the back cover of these books revealed a small logo reading, Egg in the Hole Productions. As a curious person and also someone who loves a good egg-in-the-hole, I headed over to their website, where you can find great recipes for this breakfast delight. Also, I discovered that Egg in the Hole Productions is a company that, "creates rich worlds and memorable characters that draw kids back again and again into series they love." Basically, the people at Egg in the Hole create the storylines and characters then hand these over to writers and illustrators to bring to the page. At first, this might sound kind of strange to anyone who has not worked in the world of publishing. But, companies like Alloy Entertainment have long been in business to do this very thing, especially creating book series that also become television shows and movies - think Pretty Little Liars. In fact, when I worked as an assistant to a literary agent, he was always conceiving book ideas and sharing them with his clients. This surprised me at first, but, after working in so many aspects of the kid's book industry, I see how many hands shape a book. It begins with the author who comes up with the story, writes it and workshops it with a writer's group, to the agent who edits and shapes the story further to make it salable, to the editor, marketing and design departments at the publishing house that eventually buys the book. Every step of this process, the original work is changed, even if only in small ways, and hopefully for the better. And, some people, like the agent I worked for, might have strengths that lie in the creation of stories as opposed to the actual writing of stories. Collaboration can be a very good thing, when done right.

Source: Review Copies


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