Necks come in many sizes, and sometimes those sizes seem inconvenient.
Edward the giraffe is unhappy about his neck. It’s so…“necky.” Despite fancy adornments and multiple attempts to hide, Edward is unable to accept his longest-lasting problem—his neck. That is, until he meets his complete opposite: a turtle named Cyrus whose problem is also his neck. It’s too short. He desperately wants a banana but can’t reach it. Together they solve each other’s problems and delight in each other’s strengths, thereby also learning to accept themselves as just right. Smith’s artwork is eye-catching and expressive, with a retro feel, using earth tones and geometric shapes to evoke texture and dimension. The story, though lively, does not soar as high as Edward’s neck, remaining earthbound due to well-worn tropes and a too-tidy ending. Additionally, the author has missed out on a STEM opportunity by failing to introduce animal nomenclature, simply labeling the animals Edward believes are staring at him (a warthog, a crocodile, and other animals) as simply “This guy,” “That guy,” and so forth. A clever bit of paper engineering does enable readers to take part in the story for a brief moment. Learning to appreciate one’s body in all its complicated and even ungainly forms is a laudable moral—one that should hide itself behind a more original story.
Skip this stretch of a story and seek out stronger friendship titles instead. (Picture book. 5-8)