In 1825, the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt gave a giraffe to Charles X of France.
The two-year journey of a giraffe from Sudan to Paris in the first quarter of the 19th century is exotic enough to have been told a number of times. This version is told from the deeply anthropomorphized point of view of the giraffe herself. The giraffe is captured by men with ropes and spears, carried on camelback and loaded onto a ship, where she is cared for by two boys. Across the Mediterranean, the party walks from Marseilles to Paris, and the giraffe becomes something of a media star. All of this is illustrated in lush, full-page, digitally produced art that resembles oil painting and that makes the most of the many varied landscapes the giraffe travels through. The giraffe opens herself to all these unknown experiences in her narration, finding joy in how people perceive her as elegant and graceful. Adult and older child readers may alternatively contemplate the horror of being forcibly taken from one’s homeland or the gift of making the best of where one finds oneself; younger children may take delight in the scenes of the giraffe being carried on the back of a camel and eating the flowers from a woman’s hair.
A stunningly produced version of an odd but oft-told story. (Picture book. 5-9)