Picture Book Review: “Giraffe Problems”
Author: Jory John
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (2018)
Age Range: 3-7
Grade Level: Preschool – 2
Can you guess what’s making this giraffe self-conscious? Could it be . . . HIS ENORMOUS NECK?? Yes, it’s exactly that–how on earth did you figure it out?
Edward the giraffe can’t understand why his neck is as long and bendy and, well, ridiculous as it is. No other animal has a neck this absurd. He’s tried disguising it, dressing it up, strategically hiding it behind bushes–honestly, anything you can think of, he’s tried.
Just when he has exhausted his neck-hiding options and is about to throw in the towel, a turtle swoops in (well, ambles in, very slowly) and helps him understand that his neck has a purpose, and looks excellent in a bow tie.
“Giraffe Problems” is a treasure of a story featuring Edward, a giraffe with a big problem. Edward doesn’t like his neck – it’s too long, too stretchy, too high and everyone stares at him. His neck makes him feel bad about himself, and that’s not good. He does everything he can think of to try disguise it, with no success. One day Edward meets Cyrus the turtle, who raves about how wonderful it would be to have a neck like a giraffe. Edward never considered anyone else could be unhappy with their neck and learns through his new friend about all the ways his neck is actually a very beautiful and helpful feature.
Giraffe Problems is a wonderful story about friendship and self-acceptance. It’s a theme about insecurities that are inescapable in an age when we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. It delivers an important message about self-esteem and learning to love yourself. When Cyrus tells Edward about all the wonderful things he would do if he had a neck like that, Edward starts to realize that his neck is just fine and he is okay – just the way he is.
The writing is fun, catchy and hits your funny bone with silly phrases from Edward like, “Yes, my neck is too necky,” admitting that he has “a neck only a mother could love.” At the same time, Cyrus the turtle has doubts about his own neck stating, “Pathetic, right? I’m basically neckless.” That witty banter and displays of low self-esteem is balanced with thoughtful proclamations of kindness and compassion, such as when Edward and Cyrus pay compliments to each other about their necks, holding each other in the highest regard.
I found Edward adorable, even with his tendency to be belittle himself. He makes you just want to hug that wonderful neck all day long. And everyone needs a friend like Cyrus – he’s a good buddy, supporting and building up his friend Edward when he needs it most.
The illustrations are outstanding – vibrant and funny, telling their own story with clever, expression celebrating every single page. I love this one, showing Edward slithering on top of Cyrus without even realizing what he was doing. And the guys in their bowties is just the sweetest portrait of friendship.
I’m certain kids will want to hear this story many times, and it’s one book adults won’t mind reading over and over!
About the Author and Illustrator
Learn more about the author, Jory John at: http://www.joryjohn.com/
Learn more about the illustrator, Lane Smith at: http://www.lanesmithbooks.com
I obtained a copy of this book to review from my local library. I’m working my way through 500 picture books. Authors – Need a picture book review? Contact me!