When Elephant Met Giraffe
Written and illustrated by Paul Gude
Disney-Hyperion, $16.99, Ages 3-5
For children, September is about back to school, settling into routines, and making new friends. But how do you become friends with someone who is very different from you? Paul Gude’s new book When Elephant Met Giraffe is a funny, upbeat collection of simple short stories that will entertain young readers while helping to answer that question.
Opening/synopsis: Early in the morning Elephant bounces out of bed, eager to get to the water hole with her puffy pink polka-dotted floaty. At the water hole she meets Giraffe, who doesn’t say hello or answer any of Elephant’s many, many questions. In fact, Giraffe says nothing at all. Elephant leaves in a huff, but then spends some time reading about giraffes. What she learns leads her back to the water hole and paves the way to a wonderful new friendship.
Gude’s digital illustrations are cheerful and bright, thickly outlined in black with minimal detail. Clear blue sky, rolling green hills and pale tan sand provide a simple static backdrop that draws attention to the expressions on the animal’s faces. Did you look carefully at the cover and see “Elephant” in thick blocky gray letters while “Giraffe” is written in narrow yellow and brown spotted text? Clever!
After the two new pals paddle in the water hole, their second story is about making pretzels, and a big mess, while cooperating. The third chapter (The Bossy Pirate) is a delightful tale of finding ways to compromise during an imaginative round of dress-up. Each story, though brief, is humorous and well-paced while the lessons are understated and subtle. The text is simple enough to work as an early reader for older kids as well as a funny storybook for the preschool set.
Why I Like This Book: Elephant and Giraffe are appealing and relatable in their child-like enthusiasm and sense of adventure, yet they are distinctly different characters. Elephant is consistently bubbly and upbeat, throwing herself wholeheartedly into every activity. Giraffe plays counterpoint as a reserved, gentle soul who will particularly appeal to shy or introverted readers. Together, they are a dynamite duo!
- Find out if giraffes really can make sounds by watching this video from the Myth Crew!
- Compare the buddies in this book to Mo Willem’s popular Elephant and Piggie series.
- Check out nonfiction books to read more about the differences between elephants and giraffes!
Portions of this review first appeared in North Shore Children & Families, September 2014. Read your issue online here.