Giraffe problems by Jory John

cover image

Ill. by Lane Smith. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406383164
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Giraffes. Comparisons. Self image. Edward the giraffe does not like his long neck, he feels all the other animals are looking at it. His neck is too long, too bendy, too dopey, too narrow, simply too necky. He tries tying scarves around it, neck ties and bow ties, but nothing seems to work. He tries hiding in the river, behind trees, shrubs and ditches, all to no avail. He looks at the necks of other animals: an elephant's neck is strong and powerful, yet graceful, while he loves the classic stripes of a zebra's neck. Cyrus the turtle comes along and tells Edward that he has been admiring his neck from afar. Edward cannot understand how this little animal admires his neck, but his reply shows him just how different their necks are as Cyrus shows him how restrictive his little neck is. Cyrus really wants a banana high up on the tree, but try as hard as he can, his neck will not budge, it is tiny. The pair work together to get Turtle what he wants, and Edward comes to understands that each of their necks has a purpose and it's there for a reason.
The illustrations, with an African motif, mainly wrought in giraffe colours of browns and cream are endlessly humorous as Edward tries to do all he can to lessen the visual impact of his long neck. Cyrus with his shades of green, has the most amazing range of facial expressions reflecting his frustration at not getting that banana, that readers will laugh out loud, sensing his vexation.
This is a lovely story of self image, of being happy with what you are, of not wanting to change to fit with others. A funny story, beautifully illustrated (watch out for the lift the flap page) and stylishly designed, the book will be a hit amongst early readers.
Fran Knight