Giraffe Problems by Jory John

Published: 25th September 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Random House Books
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Pages: 42
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Can you guess what’s making this giraffe self-conscious? Could it be…HIS ENORMOUS NECK Yes, it’s exactly that–how on earth did you figure it out?

Edward the giraffe can’t understand why his neck is as long and bendy and, well, ridiculous as it is. No other animal has a neck this absurd. He’s tried disguising it, dressing it up, strategically hiding it behind bushes–honestly, anything you can think of, he’s tried.

Jory John is back with another fabulous book. Giraffe Problems is a brilliant book that much like Penguin Problems, has a giraffe who is unhappy with his absurdly long neck. This seems to be his only problem, but John explores this singular issue with humour and style.

The narrative is hilarious. The short sentences and the quick words sound just like the complaints of the key character, all beautifully presented in and around Smith’s illustrations. There are no rhymes, but you don’t need them as John writes a great story that reads like a funny list of complaints and grievances by Edward and the annoyance as he interacts with those around him.

There are more words to the story as it goes on and you see how this poor giraffe has tried to cope with his long, long, super necky neck. There are beautiful moments too and I loved the interactions with all the various animals he comes across.

Smith’s illustrations deserve attention on their own. The dark earthy colours on the page bring out the feeling of nature and the expressions and actions on the animals are realistic but have a comical tone as well. The design of each page enhances the story because it makes you move your eyes around to follow the words, or rotate the book or open a flap. It adds another level of interaction beyond only reading the words on the page.

I loved the surprises at the end, sweet but still having that humour seen throughout. It is a wonderful example of understanding the benefits to being different and what may be a problem for you, may be a solution to someone else. I love Penguin Problems and I am a huge fan of Giraffe Problems as well. I am looking forward to seeing what other ideas John comes up with because I’m sure it will just as delightful.

You can purchase Giraffe Problems via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

It’s A Book by Lane Smith

Published: 10th August 2010Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Roaring Brook Press
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Star

A delightful and original work in the midst of the ongoing debate of print versus digital through humorous and silly questions from an IT-savvy donkey and a book lover monkey’s simple answers, the monkey sees the value of a printed book. Playful and lighthearted with a subversive twist that is signature Lane Smith, It’s a Book is a delightful manifesto on behalf of print in the digital age. This satisfying, perfectly executed picture book has something to say to readers of all stripes and all ages.

While I’m not always the biggest fan of talking to kids and young people about books like they’ve never seen one in their life, this is a cute little book for kids that simply tells them what a book is. With Mouse and Monkey’s help, Jackass – yes, that’s his name – learns what a book is. It’s actually quite clever at the end with something for the adult mind to enjoy.

Smith’s illustrations are unique in design, I loved the size difference between Monkey and Jackass. The colour tones are subdued but not bland, and the lack of complicate backgrounds leaves you to focus on the pair sitting in their chairs.

There are few words and it’s a dialogue type of story, but even with so few words Smith manages to tell a great story about the magic of a book and how it differs from technology.

This could be a good book if you have got a kid who is learning to read and discovering books for themselves or is used to only using digital mediums, either way it was clever.

You can purchase It’s A Book via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson | Wordery | Dymocks

Fishpond | Amazon

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

Published: 1st March1996Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Puffin Books
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Pages: 32
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  ★  – 5 Stars

You thought you knew the story of the “The Three Little Pigs”… You thought wrong.
 
In this hysterical and clever fracture fairy tale picture book that twists point of view and perspective, young readers will finally hear the other side of the story of “The Three Little Pigs.”

I love this book. I remember someone reading this book perhaps in person, perhaps on a TV show and as it was read and as I listened I fell in love. It was short and simple but what it did was show me for the very first time someone could mess with the traditional storytelling of these nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

As a kid I didn’t know it could be done and yet here it was in book form telling me that what I knew was not indeed what really happened to the three little pigs. I then marched down to Dymocks with my mother and made them order it in so I could have a copy. Since then I have enjoyed reading retellings of fairytales and nursery rhymes and it all stemmed from this little book.

Scieszka has created a hilarious story and it makes you look at other stories and ponder whether they really are as innocent as they seem. It is very fun and clever and a delight to read over and over again. Alexander T Wolf is a victim of circumstance and being framed when all he was after was some sugar for his cake. His innocence is explained through misfortune and bad timing and seeing his insistence and justification that what he does wasn’t really his fault connects the original story to this fractured one. The story goes an extra step further and you see what happens afterwards, but as a retelling it is one that is creative and clever and has charm and humour that you can’t help but love.

The illustrations are unique with an old timey feel. The characters are realistic but with a certain creative flair to them. Smith has portrayed a world where these fairytales exist, there’s one colour scheme and the style of the creatures keeps it in the fairytale realm. It feels like it happened long ago, which you get from the style of the old newspapers as well.

This really is a fantastic book. As I say, it got me hooked on fractured fairytales and retellings and the humour and tone of the narrative is delightful.

You can purchase The True Story of the Three Little Pigs via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Wordery | Angus and Robinson | Dymocks

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon