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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Geraldine, written and illustrated by Elizabeth Lilly. Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan, Raincoast. 2018. $23.50 ages 4 and up

"But here,
I just feel like that Giraffe Girl.
I'm shy, which I never
was before. It turns out
when you are my height,
hiding is not easy.

Even my voice
tries to hide;
it's gotten quiet
and whispery." 

Some of the kids returning to classrooms now will be new to the school they are attending. If you have ever started a new year in a new place and without friends, you will know how Geraldine is feeling. Add to that the fact that she is a giraffe in a human school and you have the premise for this impressive and expressive debut.

Geraldine is not impressed with the news the family is moving. Her mournful state and dramatic body language makes that evident to all around her. She will miss Giraffe City, and fears finding a place among the human students in her new school. She is right; she is different from all the others. As she accepts the reality of that, her personality changes. Where once she was outgoing and social, she now
wants to hide behind trees and basketball hoop poles - anywhere that the others won't notice her. Impossible!

Feeling lonely and 'different', Geraldine selects a hiding spot for eating her lunch. There she meets Cassie who says of herself:

"I'm that girl who wears glasses
and likes MATH and
always organizes her food!"

The two find comfort in each other, becoming fast friends who recognize the qualities that make each one unique. Feeling good about themselves leads to making other friends who can appreciate their forthrightness and willingness to reach out.

Watercolor and ink illustrations are comical, but full of feeling. Detailed and charming, readers will find much to appreciate about this delightful debut picture book. Personally, I would love to meet Geraldine in a further adventure.

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