Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Giraffe Goes to Paris: Just a Really Nice Book

In the unusual picture book, A Giraffe Goes to Paris by Mary Tavener Holmes and John Harris, illustrated by Jon Cannell, we learn the true story of Belle, a nineteenth century famous traveling giraffe. Belle, born in 1824, was an elegant gift from the pasha of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, to the king of France, Charles X. Belle's story is told by her loving caretaker, Atir. He answers our pressing questions: how does a giraffe, never before seen in France, get there from Egypt in 1826? What does she eat on her journey? What company does a single giraffe keep? Belle fascinated the people, who couldn't figure out what she was, and started a giraffe merchandising craze! I think that this is just a dear book, beautifully illustrated in watercolor and ink, with actual historical artifacts and art from Belle's heyday. A French pronunciation guide is included.

An adult book has also been written about Belle, Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story, from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris by Michael Allin, which is now on my reading list. Interestingly, Mary Tavener Holmes has written another true picture book about a journeying animal, this time a hippo, My Travels With Clara. I can't wait to get my hands on it. Adults can also choose Clara's Grand Tour: Travels with a Rhinoceros in Eighteenth-Century Europe by Glynis Ridley, which I've been meaning to read for years. Pick up one of these titles and see our beautiful creatures through fresh and wondering eyes!

No comments:


Guinan 1990?-2009

Griffin ?-2010