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Zeraffa Giraffa

This picture book presents the true story of a giraffe given by the Pasha of Egypt to King Charles X of France. The young giraffe was transported by boat down the Nile and across the sea to Marseilles, and then walked all the way to Paris. She arrived in 1827 after a 2½ year journey and Paris fell in love with her! Author and artist tell the story together, through clear evocative prose and large detailed artwork. We see the palm-fringed Nile, delighted French onlookers waving from windows, and Princess Louise Marie Thérèse who also visited the giraffe. Sometimes the landscape stretches out like a tapestry; sometimes the colourful pictures take us close to the people involved. Zeraffa remains a giraffe, unable to talk apart from the look in her eyes. Even the African boy Atir, who accompanied Zeraffa every step of the way, says nothing to us (though he whispers memories of Africa to his friend). The story is allowed to speak for itself – entrancing, accurately detailed, wonderful and wondering. Obviously a book to be read aloud and shared, but also to be appreciated by thoughtful readers of many ages.

Frances Lincoln