Friday, August 8, 2014

Oh Dear, Geoffrey! by Gemma O'Neill

Candlewick's Templar imprint isn't one I usually look to for picture books. Somehow they all just seem, not exactly short, but to have abbreviated stories. This one isn't any different, but what it does have is truly superb art.

Geoffrey is a young and clumsy giraffe. He just can't control his long legs, neck and all those awkward bits in between. When he tries to make does not end well. But then he finds some animals who can use help and some more that don't have any friends either and it turns out there are some creatures that would love to be friends with him after all!

The illustrations are an explosion of color, texture and shapes. The endpapers show rich red, orange, and brown abstract shapes which, when you open to the title page, you can see are part of the colorful blotches on Geoffrey's skin. Geoffrey has a sandy color and texture with the splashes of color and all the animals have the same blend of fancy and realism. The elephants show textured images drawn into their skins and the flamingos have brilliantly hued feathers tucked into the thick pink lines of their bodies. When Geoffrey has his final wet, muddy disaster, the page is splashed with thick white and blue shades. When he looks up at the stars with his new friends, the sky is thickly sprinkled with fiery specks. It's not just the colors and textures that make the art awesome. Geoffrey never quite fits on the page and all we see is bits and pieces of him - head, neck, flailing legs - all showing how doesn't fit in and is always getting into trouble. On the final page, when he's found friends and a place where he belongs, he's neatly curled up, his whole body shown on the page, with all his friends tucked around him.

Verdict: The story isn't particularly new or fresh, but it's told in a light, fun way with short enough text to make it fit into a toddler or young preschool storytime. The art is the real draw here and both parents and children will enjoy the vibrant colors and clever mixed media illustrations. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780763666590; Published 2014 by Templar/Candlewick; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Added to the library's order list

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