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Summary: The adventures of Giraffe of Montana and his friends continue. The four episodes in this collection have Giraffe involved in getting the community to agree on building a meeting house; chaperoning two princesses to the movies to see The Wizard of Oz; helping a friend become a test pilot; and unraveling the confusion when the entire community decides to change names. This is a read-aloud, read-along story for preteens.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 10; read yourself: 9 to 12
Young Reader Reaction: In this story, Giraffe, like all other animals, can converse with humans and is comfortable with the use of modern technology. The major themes explored in this book are growing up and preserving friendship. While it is interesting in certain areas, overall it was not a good book. First, the story progresses at a very slow pace. It often takes pages of unnecessary details before an event is brought out. Second, the use of similar names in the story makes it confusing at times. For example, Isabel and Princess Isabel are two different characters, and so are Rudolph and Rudolf. When there are dialogues between any of the similar-name pairs, it is easy to mistake one for the other. Third, because the animals to converse with humans, they lose their purpose as animals. If these animals could talk with humans, why not make them humans instead? Finally, this book lacks a strong moral of the story and a strong message to the readers. I would recommend this book for kids 6 to 10 years of age, based on the storyline and language used. The book can also be read to younger readers by an adult, but the similar-name pairs could make the storyline more difficult to understand.
Adult Reader Reaction: The stories in this book are enjoyable in and of themselves. It is a good thing that Giraffe has broad shoulders and lots of friends.
Pros: This is an enjoyable collection of stories. The bonus for the reader is that in addition to the story itself, there are lessons about life, relationships, personal responsibility, and the importance of community involvement that provide nourishing food for thought.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. In its genre this is a good book not a great one. The best deal is to borrow this book from your school or local library and save the money to purchase something special.
Educational Themes: As fables, these stories are both entertaining and thought provoking. The author has been careful to highlight the characters and plot but not to the detriment of the “lessons” embedded in the stories. Parents and teachers will find it very easy to get the readers talking about the lessons as well as the characters and stories.