The Starry Giraffe

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Book Information

Reader Personality Type
Illustrator
Publisher
Simon and Schuster 2017
Curriculum
Character-Building Curriculum

“It’s mine but you can have some With you I’d like to share it ‘Cause if I share it with you You’ll have some too Well if I have a cake to eat If I have a tasty treat If you come to me and ask I’ll give some to you” -- Raffi, “The Sharing Song” (1976)

“Just when she opened up to take a big bite, a little brown mouse popped out of his hole. ‘I’m very hungry,’ he squeaked, but I am much too little to reach those delicious apples. ‘Here you go,’ said the giraffe. ‘Thank you,’ said the mouse as he moused back into his hole.”

THE STARRY GIRAFFE is a wonderful story for preschool audiences about sharing. A series of hungry animals come along and are offered apples by the giraffe who, of course, can readily retrieve them with her long neck.

The book features bold, digitally-rendered illustrations of the giraffe, the other animals, and the tree with the bright red apples. They all stand out clearly against a white background and pale blue/gray ground. The critters are endearing and comical: The family of skunks, rendered in shades of gray, each member dancing around with an apple; the snake who, from her profile, has clearly gulped down two; the huge rhino who carries one off in his dainty little lunch box.

First-time author/illustrator Andy Bergmann is a long-time storyteller. His sense of timing is exquisite. He builds to a climax and an ending that are filled with heart, hilarity, and meaning:

‘The starry giraffe was hungrier than ever. Only one lonely apple remained on the tree. She looked around to see if anyone else might arrive. It was all quiet. [PAGE TURN] The giraffe stretched up high and picked the last apple. [PAGE TURN] Then she noticed a tiny inchworm staring up with a hungry face. Worms quite enjoy apples, so she gave him the final one. [PAGE TURN] The giraffe’s stomach rumbled. She felt tired and a little sad. [PAGE TURN] After a few moments of rest, the starry giraffe stood up tall. [PAGE TURN] She walked to the next tree and ate twenty-seven apples.”

Kids who empathize with the giraffe’s hunger and sadness will take great delight in the reveal that there is a whole line of apple trees ready for the picking. In fact, in addition to the line of eight trees on that reveal spread, the next page turn yields the back endpapers which feature a line of another ten trees full of apples. We get the impression that the fruited trees go on and on and on.

This notion of abundance, that there is plenty for all, makes me recall the Diggers in San Francisco in the sixties [see Diggers (Theater) in Wikipedia]. It also inspired me to retrieve and (again) re-read Mario Cuomo’s 1984 Democratic Convention keynote speech, specifically the two paragraphs about the wagon trains.

Others believe in a zero sum game. I can imagine them having a negative reaction to the giraffe giving away apples without remuneration or quid pro quo.

To which philosophy would you like your children aspire? Imagine when you’re old, infirm, and unproductive. Will you prefer to get booted from the wagon train by the strong and able-bodied,  or to be cared for by those who have resources? There’s currently a national debate about kicking 23 million people off of their healthcare. Can we, as a country, “afford” to give everyone clear water, clean air, and health care? I guess that depends upon your philosophy.

One of my top favorites so far this year, THE STARRY GIRAFFE is a delightful, eye-catching, simple tale about a star-covered giraffe and an apple tree. But it also can and will be viewed as a significant values-education book and even social commentary.

Recommended by:  Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

See more of his recommendations:  Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com

40 pages      978-1-4814-9100-6    Ages

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