FICTION

Giraffe Problems

illus. by Lane Smith. 40p. Random. Sept. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524772031.
COPY ISBN
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—In a follow-up to Penguin Problems, John and Smith team up again and bring their zany brand of comedy. Edward the giraffe has a problem with his neck—it's just too necky. Who wants such a long neck? "Everybody stares at it. This guy. That guy. Him. Her. Them. Whatever that is. Her again." Edward envies his fellow African animals, who generally respond unfavorably. When Edward admires the zebra's classic stripes, the zebra snaps, "Quit staring at me," but it takes a self-effacing turtle named Cyrus to convince him that his neck is just perfect. A foldout page reveals Edward using his neck for its intended purpose. In a beautiful introduction to the uniqueness of a giraffe's spots, Smith has created large, block-printed spots in natural colors to adorn the end pages. The textured print continues throughout, visible in the hides of animals, the bark of trees, and the textured ground of the African plain. Of course, there is the theme of self-acceptance and a bit of sublime silliness as well, especially in Edwards's fruitless attempts at camouflage and in the expressively simple eyes of Cyrus the turtle.
VERDICT This book will appeal to older preschoolers as well as elementary school kids, and would lend itself perfectly to dramatic interpretation or an art lesson in sponge or block printing.

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