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Happy World Giraffe Day!

giraffe baby and motherIt’s World Giraffe Day, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation’s “worldwide celebration of these amazing and much loved animals” and “annual event to raise support, create awareness and shed light on the challenges giraffes face in the wild.”

Go donate to the GCF to help save giraffes, then meet some new (and very tall!) friends in the below books for young readers. All were recommended at their time of publication by The Horn Book Magazine and Guide; reviews reprinted from The Horn Book Guide Online. UPDATED JUNE 21, 2018.


Dominguez, Angela  How Are You? / ¿Cómo estás? by Angela Dominguez
PS   32 pp.    Holt     2018

The two giraffes from How Do You Say? / ¿Cómo se dice? star in this high-energy bilingual book about identifying emotions and making friends. Digitally colorized mixed-media illustrations place the emphasis on the giraffes’ comic expressions and goofy antics.

Dominguez, Angela  How Do You Say? / ¿Cómo se dice?
PS   32 pp.    Holt     2016

With one word or phrase per page–English (left), Spanish (right)–two giraffes come together over a leafy meal (“Delicious! / ¡Sabrosa!”) that flows elegantly into friendship (“Friends? / ¿Amigos?”). Pencil and tissue-paper illustrations colored digitally use white space, color contrasts, and unexpected layouts to create a visual rhythm that matches the snappy text. This book’s design works particularly well for group sharing.

gude_when elephant met giraffeGude, Paul  When Elephant Met Giraffe
PS      56 pp.     Disney/Hyperion     2014

Talkative Elephant believes he and wordless Giraffe are unlikely friends until Elephant learns (from a book) that giraffes are naturally quiet. The burgeoning friendship unfolds in three chapter-like segments in which the back-and-forth is amusingly repetitive (“Giraffe didn’t say anything”). The cleanly designed book features simple but expressive digitally generated illustrations with bold black outlines that skillfully convey the friends’ distinct demeanors.

gude_surprise for elephant and giraffeGude, Paul  A Surprise for Giraffe and Elephant
PS      56 pp.     Disney/Hyperion     2015

The second book about quiet Giraffe and talkative Elephant’s sweet friendship includes three vignettes about Giraffe’s inopportune timing with an alpine horn, their effort to build a toboggan (no snow!), and a surprise party masterminded by Elephant. The animals’ reciprocal relationship conveys ordinary friendship challenges such as misunderstandings, disappointment, and surprises. Colorful digital illustrations with heavy black outlines are bold yet simple.

rayner_abigailRayner, Catherine  Abigail
PS     32 pp.     Tiger Tales     2013

When Abigail, a giraffe whose favorite thing is counting, invites Zebra and Cheetah to count a field of flowers with her, she discovers they don’t know how (“One…two…six…lots!”). It takes all day to teach them, and by then it’s dark. What will the three friends count now? Charming and energetic watercolor illustrations give Abigail and her pals lots of personality.

Yuly, Toni The Jelly Bean Tree
PS   40 pp.    Feiwel    2017
Jelly Bean is a kind blue giraffe with black spots whose head accidentally becomes home to a bird’s nest. Jelly Bean’s animal friends entertain her while she waits for the eggs to hatch. The short, simple sentences highlight themes of friendship and caring. Set against the mostly white background, the bright collage illustrations (containing torn tissue- and construction-paper and twine) are full of texture.


Burach, Ross I Am NOT a Chair!
Gr. K–3    40 pp.    HarperCollins/Harper 2017

When Giraffe moves to the jungle, the other animals, and even a human (“Smartest species? Yeah, right”), keep mistaking him for a chair and sitting on him. Giraffe is too afraid to speak up…until nature’s call (“I’ve got to pee!”) forces him to take a stand. This well-spun tale’s slapstick is all the funnier for the cast’s dopey facial expressions.

flory_short giraffeFlory, Neil  The Short Giraffe
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Whitman     2014

Illustrated by Mark Cleary. When giraffes gather to pose for a photo, they can’t figure out a way to get Geri, “the shortest giraffe who ever lived,” into the shot. Eventually a clever and observant caterpillar speaks up with a simple solution. The digital illustrations of goofy-looking, multicolored giraffes in silly situations (e.g., Geri tries stilts) and the heartwarming final photo will keep kids smiling.

Iwasa, Megumi Yours Sincerely, Giraffe
Gr. 1–3   104 pp.    Gecko    2017
Illustrated by Jun Takabatake. Translated by Cathy Hirano. In this Japanese import, bored Giraffe sees an ad from a pelican advertising his mail-delivery service; he eagerly writes a letter for delivery to the first animal past the horizon. So begins the letters, speculations, and bloopers of Giraffe and Penguin’s friendship. Takabatake’s simple line drawings add humor and depth to a wonderfully fresh take on how we make friends and correct mistaken impressions.

michalak_joe and sparky go to schoolMichalak, Jamie  Joe and Sparky Go to School
Gr. K–3     42 pp.     Candlewick     2013

Illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. Giraffe Joe and best friend Sparky the turtle, who live at Safari Land, take an unexpected field trip to a school when they accidentally board a departing bus full of “noisy short people.” Limited but lively vocabulary, a large font, and carefully placed illustrations — all in a humorous, high-interest package — will make this a hit.

o'neill_oh dear gregoryO’Neill, Gemma  Oh Dear, Geoffrey!
Gr. K–3   32 pp.     Candlewick/Templar     2014

Young, wobbly-kneed giraffe Geoffrey tries to make friends with other animals, but he’s so tall that when he bends down to play, he stumbles and falls. Discouraged, he heads to a tall tree for a snack — and meets a group of monkeys and birds who value him for his height. Frequent shifts in perspective add tension and movement to the mixed-media illustrations.

wahl_long tall journeyWahl, Jan  The Long Tall Journey
Gr. K–3   40 pp.     Creative Editions      2015

Illustrated by Laurent Gapaillard. This delightful tale — the real-life story of the giraffe sent to France in 1825 as a gift for King Charles X from the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt — is narrated unexpectedly by the giraffe himself. The various settings, including Sudan, the sea voyage, and the walk across France, are richly imagined in digital artwork resembling oil paintings. Explanatory afterword included.

tiny giraffe

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