May 02, 2015

The Tweedles Go Online

by Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Marie Lafrance
Groundwood Books
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
For release May 2015

Monica Kulling and Marie Lafrance's endearingly old-fashioned family, the Tweedles, has returned and this time they're looking to go online.  Telephone line, that is.
"I see we are going modern," sighed Papa. "Again."
First they moved from bicycles and horse and carriage to electric car in The Tweedles Go Electric (Groundwood, 2014).  Now Mama, with children Franny and Frankie, is ready to embrace the new technology that has their neighbour Mrs. Hamm raving about staying connected with her sister and friends, and about ordering her groceries online.  Papa still prefers the olds ways of getting about, i.e., walking and horses, and spending time with family playing crokinole.  And the noisy bells, the incessant chatter at all hours, and the time the new contraption takes away from their family time has him quietly resentful, though he says nothing. Papa is too much of a gentleman and wants to keep his family happy.  But when the telephone would surely have been useful in communicating an emergency, it falls short and the Tweedles recognize its limitations, with charming acceptance.

It seems the new developments of the first half of the 20th century produced similar effects to those of our 21st century: suspicion, caution, acceptance, overuse, disappointment, and finally comfort.  And how Monica Kulling is able to pack all that into a mere 32 pages, while still creating an engaging family of individuals–Papa, Mama, Franny and Frankie are completely unique and recognizable–with friends–Gladys Hamm is surely a woman we all know or knew–is astounding to me.  I said it before and I’ll say it again: I love the Tweedles!  They are refreshing, honest, unique and their take on all things new and 20th century is enchanting.

And Marie Lafrance puts colour and form to Monica Kulling’s Tweedles and story that I’m not sure anyone else could do so completely.  From their hair to their clothes, and the manner of their movements or even stances, Marie Lafrance has given life to the Tweedles and established a calming and rich environment–her colour palette is impeccable!– in which they can thrive, nay, progress.

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