I’ve been falling for giraffes lately. And Geraldine is no exception.
From the jacket flap:
“No, no, NO! Geraldine is not moving. Not to this new town where she’s the only giraffe. Not to this new school where she has no friends. Not to this new place where everyone only knows her as That Giraffe Girl.”
Moving is hard, especially when you go from being the norm to being the anomaly.
Elizabeth Lilly, the author/illustrator, conveys Geraldine’s angst and dread so perfectly, I am compelled to give you a taste of this brilliant marriage of text and art.
The opening spread tells you everything you need to know. Poor Geraldine. Poor Mom and Dad.
And then Geraldine drapes herself over her bed instead of packing.
We’ve all seen that child. The one who’s limp with despair when forced to make a change, make new friends, or become the new, strange kid at school. It’s even hard for adults, although we’ve experienced these kinds of changes many times before. So for a child who’s facing this situation for the first time, it’s even more difficult.
And though we understand that Geraldine is a bit of a drama queen, we love her for how deeply she feels her emotions. To the point of draping her long neck out of the car as they drive away. THAT NECK!!! So expressive.
She is, after all, leaving Giraffe City and moving to a place where she will be the ONLY giraffe, calling herself “That Giraffe Girl.” There’s so much humor midst all the angst. Adults and kids smile and empathize when Geraldine uses the school flag atop its pole to dry her tears that threaten to drown everyone.
And in a tender moment, she see wants to hide, while her voice gets “quiet and whispery.”
Yes, it’s true. Geraldine is the only giraffe at her new school. But then a possible friend in the form of Cassie appears. She, too, is an outsider. And it turns out that outsiders can help each other blossom. From here on in, Geraldine’s neck begins to get a little less droopy. She stands a little straighter and becomes more positive about her world.
Thank goodness the transition is true to life, because everything does not become perfect. Geraldine still finds it hard to fit into things, like a costume for the school play, or wanting to hide or cry when people look at her funny sometimes, but for the most part, she has figured out that being the “one and only Geraldine” is “Really Great.”
This brilliant debut is a strong, character-driven story, so I predict that we’ll be seeing more of Geraldine and her neck in the future.
Tips for helping kids adjust to the move:
Make your own picture book story, showing the move from the old house to the new one. From the old school to the new one. From old friends to new ones.
Crafts for kids AFTER the BIG MOVE. Use those moving boxes and bubble wrap:
Author/Illustrator: Elizabeth Lilly
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Book Press, 2108
Themes: Moving, Change, making new friends
For more perfect picture books, check out Susanna Hill’s blog where teachers, writers/illustrators, and reviewers share their recommendations.