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Stay Close to Mama

Stay Close to Mama

Written by Toni Buzzeo
Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
Hyperion Children’s Books, 2012
Picture Book, 32 pages
Ages 2–8

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-42313-482-4 

Awards & Good Things

  • A Scholastic Book Club Selection
  • A Children’s Book of the Month Club Selection

Book Description

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.

Stay Close to Mama artwork by Mike Wohnoutka


“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. Wohnoutka’s large, almost impressionistic paintings grant a rich glimpse of the vast savanna and its denizens.”

School Library Journal

“Written with a storyteller’s ear for cadence and repetition, the text has a sense of immediacy. The book concludes with a short author’s note on giraffes. Nicely composed and pleasing in their use of rounded forms and line, the broad double-page illustrations show up well from a distance. A good choice for reading aloud.”


“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.”

Publishers Weekly

“A sweet story about a curious little giraffe and his mama, Stay Close to Mama is a beautifully illustrated picture book which expresses the close, protective relationship between a mother and son.”

The Center for Children’s Literature at Carthage College

“Twiga’s inquisitiveness will be appealing to the younger set, and parents will readily recognize the unconditional love and protection that his mother offers to him. Audiences will warm to Twiga’s wobbly-legged cuteness and sweet smile.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“In today’s cross-cultural families, it is fun to share stories from other lands. Twiga is the Swahili word for giraffe. The story follows a curious baby giraffe who keeps wandering away from his mother to explore the interesting sights and smells that surround them. The author includes a brief note on giraffes and the illustrator creates a beautiful African setting.”

The Missoulian

“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.”

Children's Literature