Edward, the giraffe, is really self-conscious about his neck. He believes that every animal keeps staring at him for his neck being too long. Too bendy. Too narrow. Too dopey. Too patterned. Too stretchy. Too patterned. Too stretchy. Too high. Too lofty. Too…necky. Giraffe problems , one might say. Indeed, Giraffe Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith is a must-have book especially for those who laughed out loud with the Penguin Problems two years ago. The story is simply hilarious and the warm beige-brown illustrations work seamlessly with the text.
The story is about Edward, a giraffe which is embarrassed by his neck. He has tried dressing it up with scarves, bows and ties besides restlessly avoiding being seen by others during the day. He hides behind tall trees, inside ditches and in rivers until the sun sets. He firmly believes that all other animals are blessed with classic, elegant necks and in his mind he is the only one with an ugly shameful neck. One day, he meets Cyrus, a turtle which also has issues with his own neck. Cyrus explains how he finds Edward’s neck impressive especially when Edward helps him out and offers him a banana that Cyrus would never be able to reach out of a tree. Will their encounter and the friendship that is being developed help both the giraffe and the turtle finally accept their physical characteristics and feel good with their necks?
It is a picture book that depicts a bitter reality of our contemporary world and stresses how a lot of people pay excessive attention to their physical appearances frequently classifying different traits -that may not follow fashionable standards- as blemishes. Children encounter this phenomenon from the very first days at school and even before through exposure to forcefully standardized beauty norms. The story hints that apart from Edward himself, the other animals did not seem to care about his too long neck. He became obsessed and rather tiresome to other animals as he kept comparing necks all the time. It is often the case that we all want what others have until something bigger comes and shakes us off our fears and obsessions. The encounter with Cyrus, the turtle made Edward realize how fortunate he is to be able to reach bananas when he is hungry or admire the view easily. Edward finds a friend and for once he feels good about his neck. A lovely, original picture book that will make you giggle with the silly dialogue, and move you with the beautiful inspiring ending. It recommended for readers aged 3-8 years old.