I fell in love at first sight with sweet Giraffe and Zebra’s outstretched arms. Yes, smitten by a cover. So often that’s the first thing that grabs the eye of the parent or child in the bookstore or library.
And when I read the first spread, I was hooked. Giraffe has a problem:
Every day Giraffe and Zebra
walked to the water hole together.
But today, Giraffe couldn’t go.
He would have to tell Zebra.
You see, Giraffe is afraid of spiders—and he’s seen one. Which has left him stranded up a tree without his courage.
When Zebra finds out, he tells Giraffe all sorts of reasons why he shouldn’t be afraid, but Giraffe isn’t convinced and has an objection for each. Hopeless. Does Zebra leave his friend wrapped around a tree branch? Well, yes and no.
Zebra stays under the tree, lending moral support while waiting for Giraffe to muster up the courage he needs to confront his fear.
In other words, Zebra helps his friend by being patient. And Giraffe finds the courage to face his fear, a lesson for both the one who wants to help, and the one who “needs” the help. It should also be noted that Zebra never makes fun of giraffe for this small, somewhat irrational fear. Instead, he takes it seriously.
Bravo to author Lisa Katzenberger for finding the sweet spot of empathy, one that lies between solving someone else’s problem for them and helping someone solve their own problem by being supportive as they figure it out themselves.
And hat’s off to the illustrator, Jaclyn Sinquett, for creating the most huggable, expressive giraffe I’ve ever seen, along with a comforting color palette for the entire book.
I’d also like to share Lisa’s inspiration behind this book:
Pair with another book about fear — THERE MIGHT BE LOBSTERS by Carolyn Crimi, Illus. Laurel Molk.
Think of something small that you’re afraid of, and talk to a friend or parent about it. Does talking about your fear make it any less scary? Or does it just feel good to let others know and understand your fear?
Make an origami giraffe
For parents/teachers: Making Caring Common website
Also for parents/teachers: Scholastic Ages & Stages – Empathy
Title: It Will Be OK
Author: Lisa Katzenberger
Illustrator: Jaclyn Sinquett
Publisher: Sourcebooks Explore, 2021
Ages: Pre-K – 3rd grade
Themes: empathy, kindness, friendship
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s blog.