Stay Close to Mama


In the wide, shining world there is so much to see, and Twiga is curious. But Twiga's tall, tall Mama wants her baby to stay close, stay safe from the dangers that lurk near each irresistible sweet smell and sparkling sight that Twiga finds.

With lyrical text and enchanting illustrations, this story of a mother's love will soothe and delight readers of all ages.

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In the wide, shining world there is so much to see, and Twiga is curious. But Twiga's tall, tall Mama wants her baby to stay close, stay safe from the dangers that lurk near each irresistible sweet smell and sparkling sight that Twiga finds.

With lyrical text and enchanting illustrations, this story of a mother's love will soothe and delight readers of all ages.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Like all babies, Twiga the giraffe is curious. He hears, smells, or sees something new and off he gallops, oblivious to the anxieties of his “tall, tall mama,” who knows that predators are everywhere on the savanna: “No, little Twiga. Stay close, stay safe.” There’s no doubt that readers and their parents will instantly see themselves in this loving but ongoing conflict over the need to explore and the need to protect, and they’ll undoubtedly find the two characters adorable and reassuring. But Buzzeo (One Cool Friend) and Wohnoutka’s (Can’t Sleep Without Sheep) execution falls short in key respects. The savanna looks more like a cheery local meadow than a hot, “dusty plain,” and this geographic de-clawing lowers the life-and-death stakes considerably. Furthermore, the writer and illustrator are at odds over whether Twiga ever understands how much danger he’s in (Buzzeo suggests yes, Wohnoutka seems to indicate no). Because the book deprives readers of a strong point of view, the scenes lack comedic or dramatic tension. Ages 1–5. Agent: Stefanie Von Borstel, Full Circle Literary. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
Twiga is a very curious baby giraffe that wants to explore the plains; however, his mother wants him to stay close by her because of the dangerous predators that lie waiting. There are enticing fragrances, interesting sounds, and sparkling items that Twiga wants to see. He is not aware of the threats around him like the hyena and leopard that are looking for a tasty meal. Despite mother giraffe's warnings, Twiga also encounters some stinging ants which result in an unpleasant experience. The illustrations stretch across the layout which adds to the visual enjoyment for children listening during a read aloud of the story. The yellow tone of color gives warmth to the pictures. An author's note at the back of the book provides some additional information about giraffes that readers may find interesting. Children may identify with the protective relationship between Twiga and his mother. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung
School Library Journal
PreS-K—Despite his mother's reminders to "Stay close, stay safe," young Twiga (Swahili for "giraffe") constantly strays toward whichever sight, sound, or smell catches his attention. His inquisitiveness is not diminished by stinging ants, a tumble in crocodile-infested waters, or a close call with a cheetah. He ultimately snags the fruit of a tasty-smelling sausage tree and returns to Mother. At sunset, he looks out to the horizon and the text states, "And Twiga is so curious." The author's concluding notes describe giraffes' dislike of water and their inquiring nature despite their shyness. Readers also learn that the favored fruit actually smells like bats. Wohnoutka's large, almost impressionistic paintings grant a rich glimpse of the vast savanna and its denizens.—Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA
Kirkus Reviews
A young giraffe repeatedly lands in dangerous situations when his curiosity gets the best of him. Concerned mama giraffe knows many threats exist on the African savanna, but her little Twiga ("giraffe" in Swahili) "is so curious." The "tall, tall mama…leans close and whispers a warning, / No, little Twiga. Stay close, stay safe." Twiga's keen senses prove irresistible. He hears music in a thorny tree, sees sparkly water and smells the delicious fruit of the sausage tree. Each time he approaches the attractive object, a predator or serious discomfort--hyena, stinging ants, crocodile, cheetah--looms near. The clueless Twiga always manages to move onto the next pursuit just in time. Mama giraffe is often shown in the background looking worried. But Twiga, other than in the moment the ants crawl onto his nose, never learns the important lesson that being careful will surely save his life. Somehow all is forgiven after Twiga grabs the sweet fruit and returns to his mama…at least until the next time. Overall there are many elements that seem off: the contradictory message, the sometimes-precious tone of the text and the disconnect between the textual description of the setting and what is shown in Wohnoutka's illustrations. The text describes "tall brown grass" and a "dusty plain," but the full-bleed spreads show mostly lush green landscapes dotted with flowers. Pass on this muddled effort. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-5)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423134824
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 3/13/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 493,138
  • Product dimensions: 10.30 (w) x 11.26 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Toni Buzzeo

Toni Buzzeo is the author of several picture books for children, including The Sea Chest, illustrated by Mary GrandPre, Dawdle Duckling, illustrated by Margaret Spengler, and most recently No T.Rex in the Library, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa. A School Library Media Specialist, Toni lives on an old farm in Buxton, Maine with her husband. Visit her at

Mike Wohnoutka has illustrated many children's books, including the award-winning Davey's Blue-Eyed Frog by Patricia Harrison Easton, Mama's Little Ducking by Marjorie Parker, and most recently Can't Sleep without Sheep by Susanna Leonard Hill. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two children. You can visit him at

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