Geraldine – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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.


For teachers:

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:

Title: Geraldine

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.


19 thoughts on “Geraldine – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Annie Lynn says:

    Awesome review! I am so glad to see Geraldine getting more press and reviews. This book hit me full force and I fell in love with Geraldine. One review said she has “The most expressive neck in kidlit.” It really will make kids who feel like a loner or different, better, and eventually they will discover how cool and unique they are, just like Geraldine and Cassie did. BTW, the author, Elizabeth Lily is an amazingly kind person, and I know that her next PB is going to be just as great!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      That neck. That neck. I can’t stop thinking about that neck and how much emotion it contains. So glad to hear there’s a new book in the works. I’m looking forward to reading it! Anyone who catches Neal Porter’s eye is bound to rock the PB world. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Maria Marshall says:

    It can be so hard to move. What a great book for all those kids who feel on the outside. And Beth’s right, the boxes and bubble wrap activities are great. Thanks for helping highlight this book.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Thanks, Maria. I never had to move as a child, but I remember the story my parents used to tell about the one time my dad had an offer to move for work and my mom and brother (before I was born) cried the whole time they visited the new town. My parents stayed in the same house until they died as has my brother once he had a family. Maybe they could have worked through their feelings about moving if they had had this book, LOL.

  3. Patricia Tilton says:

    And, there are a lot of new giraffe books being published — they are popular right now. This book really shows the anguish children experience over moving. I am in love with Elizabeth Lilly’s expressive artwork! You almost don’t need much text. Great theme for kids. Adding this book to my list!

  4. Ste J says:

    Who would think a neck would be so expressive. I like that there is no perfect ending but an acknowledgement that life, and moving is bitter sweet but we get through it.

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