Jermaine the Giraffe is having a very sad Thanksgiving indeed. Not only is he all alone, but he doesn’t have any food to eat either. Luckily for him, his friend, Grant the Ant, and his enormous ant family bring enough food to fill Jermaine’s empty belly.
This book has some fine qualities. The illustrations are very nicely done. Bright, full color pictures offset the text beautifully and create a great visual world for young readers to enjoy. The ants are adorable, as is Jermaine, with his large oval eyes and round snout.
The plot of the story is cute too, but the delivery could use some polishing. The story is told in rhyming couplets that often interrupt natural syntax so much that it’s difficult to read aloud to the young children it’s aimed at.
The main message that does come through, is that people, or in this case, ants and giraffes, should help each other out. Grant and his family don’t think twice about sharing what they have to help Jermaine. Unfortunately, there’s a missed opportunity for Jermaine to exercise good manners and thank his friends, but he doesn’t. In fact, Jermaine doesn’t express gratitude at all, except for in the smile on his face in the illustrations. At the end, it’s the ants who say, “Thank you, Lord, for this Thanksgiving Day.”
There is brief mention of prayer, as Jermaine “sat alone and talked to the Lord” before his friends bring him any food. It would be tighter in the overall story arc if Jermaine at least joined his friends in thanking the Lord at the end, since we’ve seen that Jermaine has some sort of religious affinity but the ants had “forgotten to pray” before their meal.
Overall, the illustrations and the premise are wonderful but the plot could use some tightening. It would also be beneficial to drop the contrived rhyme scheme and just tell the story in natural language.
Chris Hayden has been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.
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