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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe, by Megumi Iwasa with illustrations by Jun Takabatake. Gecko Press, Thomas Allen & Son. 2017. $26.99 ages 7 and up

"Dear You, Whoever You Are,
Who Lives on the Other Side
of the Horizon

I am Giraffe. I live in
Africa. I'm famous for my
long neck. Please tell me
all about yourself.

Yours sincerely,

Boredom often results in a search for something new and exciting. Giraffe feels that the solution to the way he is feeling could be assuaged by the presence of a friend. At the end of a long day, as he watches the sunset, he begins thinking about what might be on the other side of the horizon. As luck would have it, he finds a notice for a new mail service offered by a 'bored' pelican. He decides to write a letter to help satisfy his curiosity. Pelican will take it as far as he can and deliver it to the first animal he sees there.

Pelican's return is delayed by the length of the trip. Turns out the first animal encountered is a Seal, a mail carrier who delivers to the animals of the area. The only one who receives and sends mail happens to be Penguin. He must count on Seal to make the final leg of each letter's journey. Finally, Pelican returns with a letter from Penguin. Giraffe, having never seen or met a Penguin, has many questions. Pelican returns to deliver the next letter and helps Giraffe and Penguin become pen pals. What fun! There is so much to learn as the letters pass back and forth from one to the other.

Is there a chance that they might meet? Perhaps a Penguin costume would make the meeting easier for the two. How will Giraffe design such a thing when he has no idea what a penguin looks like? Penguin tries to help by providing an apt description of himself. Pelican cannot help much since he has not met Penguin.

Delightful, and sure to elicit giggles from young listeners as it is shared, this is a charming import from Japan. The misunderstandings are funny and endearing. Most kids today have little or no experience with letters coming in the mail, and have likely rarely written a letter to anyone. I have very fond memories of the few years when I had a pen pal in Bakersfield, CA. I was a grade school student and unfortunately, we did not keep the communication going. I still think it is a worthy pursuit. This delightful book might just inspire someone to give it a try.

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