Review Blog

Dec 10 2018

Giraffe problems by Jory John

cover image

Ill. by Lane Smith. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406383164
(Age: 5-8) Themes: Differences, Individual Characteristics. The book begins with Edward the giraffe telling us his problem: 'I feel bad about my neck. I do. I can't help it. It's too long. Too bendy . . . Too . . . necky.' He tell us all the ways he has tried to hide it or dress it up. All the other animals seem to have glorious, perfect necks. But his makes him want to hide until the sun sets. His tirade of self-loathing is just ending when he accidentally rests his cumbersome neck on a turtle. Cyrus the turtle then begins telling Edward about his own neck problems: 'I've been admiring your neck from afar. Oh, how I wish my neck looked like yours! I'd get so much done in a day'. And so he continues on his own little tirade. The story is told with dry humour, making fun of their extreme vanity and how focused they are on their own problem. The funniest part of the book is when turtle tells us, using very descriptive story-telling, of how he has waited for a week under a banana tree for a piece of fruit to fall to the ground so he could 'sample its sweetness and nourish myself in the process'. 'You want a banana from a tree?' says Edward. 'That's what I said, yes'. Plunk, down one comes. So, Cyrus praises Edward's neck and Edward waxes lyrical about Cyrus's neck and they dress themselves up with bowties. 'I feel good about our necks, Edward'. 'Thank you, Cyrus. For once, so do I. Yes, for once, so do I . . . '
Lane Smith (It's a Book, The Stinky Cheese Man) has used textured illustrations which are perfectly suited to the animals and natural setting within this story and the character-driven narrative. The colours used are mostly earthy browns, yellows and greens. The reader can tell which animal is speaking because of their individualised text style and colour; this is a clever technique and it is always clear who is speaking, if not from the content or placement within the picture then from the typeface. This has a nice moral about accepting ourselves as we are and celebrating what makes us unique. It is also about recognising difference and how we can make use of those differences to work together.
Nicole Nelson

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