________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 5. . . .October 1, 2010


Giraffe and Bird.

Rebecca Bender.
Toronto, ON: Dancing Cat Books/Cormorant Books, 2010.
24 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-897151-84-6.

Subject Headings:
Giraffe-Juvenile fiction.
Birds-Juvenile fiction.
Friendship-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

***½ /4

Reviewed from f&g's.



It's true that getting along can be difficult.

If the bird could tell you, he'd say
he can't stand the giraffe.

And if the giraffe could tell you, he'd say
he can't abide the bird.

Unless we choose to live our lives as isolated misanthropes, we have to find ways to achieve some form of social harmony with those around us, and we may have to undertake actions which could mean our accommodating other peoples' annoying behaviours. (Of course, since we are perfect, such tasks are entirely one-sided, right?) A tall giraffe and a tiny bird appear to have a tension-filled relationship as each exhibits a number of behaviours which annoy the other. If the giraffe were to make a list of what were Bird's annoying actions, he would include among them the bird's making faces at him and defecating on him. In turn, Bird would speak to Giraffe's having bad breath and chewing with his mouth open. As the number of offending behaviours mount up, a frustrated Giraffe says, "Scram, Bird!" to which Bird responds, "Get lost, Giraffe!" and they go in separate directions. That night, however, a violent thunderstorm causes both Giraffe and Bird to wish that they were together so that they could comfort each other as bolts of lightening flash and the thunder crashes. The next morning, both animals find that they have missed each other and they do reconnect, but almost immediately Bird "start[s] making faces again," and so the story of their friction-filled relationship continues, likely forever.

internal art     Rebecca Bender's first book is an excellent beginning to what, hopefully, will be a long career in authoring and illustrating picture books. Her theme of a rocky friendship is most appropriate for her largely preschool audience, and her bold acrylic (on textured illustration board) cartoon-like illustrations reveal the pairs' "childish" (and child-like) behaviours while effectively and humourously transmitting the characters' changing emotional states. As an author/illustrator, Bender knows when a picture, rather than words, should carry the story. Consequently, the text, "Other days the bird eats too many berries (which are high in fiber)," does not indicate why Giraffe should be annoyed. However, three comic strip-like panels reveal Bird carrying a sprig of berries, eating them and then bending over his perch, his face evidencing a strained grunt. The result of Bird's actions is revealed below the panels via an angry looking Giraffe who has an obvious bird dropping on his head.

      Youngsters who have already enjoyed books like Jeremy Tankard's Grumpy Bird, Me Hungry and Boo Hoo Bird will also delight in Giraffe and Bird.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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