Thursday, January 20, 2011
Giraffe and Bird, written and illustrated by Rebecca Bender. Dancing Cat, Cormorant, 2010. $18.95 ages 3 and up
"It's true that getting along can be difficult.
If the bird could tell you, he'd say
he can't stand the giraffe.
And if the giraffe could tell you he'd say
he can't abide the bird."
As they eye each other obliquely on the front cover, you have an inkling of the story to come.
Opening that cover, you are met with giraffe-coated endpapers and a lime green feather which lead directly to sworn enemies who have little love for the other. Their attitude is clear in both text and art. The bird makes faces, the giraffe uses his overlong tongue to make his feelings known. Getting too close, hating each other's proclivities for bad breath and too much fibre, and appalling table manners are just some of the annoyances that make each life miserable:
"When the bird perches on the giraffe's horns,
the giraffe swats him with his ears.
When the giraffe swats the bird with his ears,
the bird pecks him with his beak.
The pecking makes the giraffe shake his head
until they are both dizzy.
Dizzy and woozy, they both tumble to the ground."
They decide to have nothing to do with the other and go off on their own. But, when the going gets rough, it is evident that the two have some unresolved affection. It is the giraffe's determination and ingenuity that brings them together again. The contentment lasts mere seconds. An all-out brouhaha will have kids laughing out loud as the two find their way back to normal.
What a great debut for Rebecca Bender! Her characters are full of expression and humor, the text is fun and enlightening...new vocabulary abounds! This is a book I will return to again and again.