In 1826, the Egyptian pasha, trying to mend his diplomatic fences, presented King Charles X with the first giraffe ever to be seen in France. With three cows to provide her with milk, the young giraffe traveled to Marseilles by ship; since no conveyance was adequate to carry her on land, she had to walk from there to Paris--with an entourage that included the cows, several Egyptian keepers, an elderly professor (one of the few Frenchmen ""who knew anything about giraffes""), a dangerous antelope in a cage, a coach, and even a translator. Arriving in Paris, they were greeted by an enthusiastic populace and the eagerly impatient king. In her first book, Milton spices a true story with some dialogue and dozens of intriguing, authentic particulars. Roth, in another fine debut, catches the times and the tale's inherent humor in lively, detailed panoramas and more intimate scenes, with both humans and animals gently caricatured. A wonderfully amusing vignette that painlessly conveys quite a lot of social history. Informative historical note; map.