Don’t Laugh at Giraffe Reviews

Quill and Quire Starred Review
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“The amusing duo that tickled funny bones and captured hearts in Rebecca Bender’s 2010 picture book debut, Giraffe and Bird, return in Don’t Laugh at Giraffe.

The book opens with a fun montage of all the ways Giraffe and Bird irritate each other. Giraffe barely tolerates Bird’s chirpy morning song. Likewise, Bird plugs his ears when Giraffe clears his extra-long throat. Nonetheless, they are friends, which makes Bird’s part in embarrassing Giraffe at the watering hole that much harder to bear. Afterward, Bird feels horrible, so he comes up with a clever way to win back his friend and show the power of a well-placed joke.

As with her first book, Bender excels at bringing to life the precious, amusing intricacies of friendships (particularly young friendships) in a captivating, likeable story. The annoyances the two pals visit upon each other are instantly relatable, and readers of all ages will recognize bits of themselves in stately Giraffe and silly Bird.

Bender’s visuals are equally charismatic. Rich, lush colours provide backdrops for wonderful close-ups of the characters’ faces as they express a range of emotions. The look on Bird’s face when he sees Giraffe sipping water from a mud puddle will melt the coldest of hearts. A stunning two-page spread (pictured above) of Giraffe’s head, with tiny Bird atop his nose, is especially impressive.

Don’t Laugh at Giraffe is a warm, gentle tale with a good message and plenty of funny moments, making it a great choice for sharing. After all, the story reminds us, it’s always better to laugh with a friend than at one.”
—Sarah Sorensen, a writer in Toronto.

Publishers Weekly

“Bender paints the animals against a bright savanna backdrop, emphasizing their emotional ups and downs with exaggerated facial expressions. The conversational text gracefully delivers a message about kindness and having a sense of humor.”

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CM Magazine

“Youngsters who first met this delightful animal odd couple in Giraffe and Bird…will be pleased that the sometimes squabbling duo are back again in another story about friendship. As author/illustrator Bender demonstrated in Giraffe and Bird, she knows when a picture, rather than words, should carry the story. …A fun read, but one which still speaks to the meaning of friendship. Highly Recommended.”
—Dave Jenkinson

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Resource Links

“This colourful picture book lives its message: one of the best antidotes for sadness is laughter. The illustrations by author/illustrator Rebecca Bender delight the reader even before the humorous and effective twist at the end of the story. A successful element in the interaction of text and image is that Bender bolds the important words—mainly the verbs—on each page. So with the bold verbs creating motion, and the energetic pictures showing action and emotion, what Bender has created is a very lively picture book for young readers, who will be able to pick out the bolded words and match them to the action in the pictures.

In the scorching heat of the African sun, Giraffe and Bird—best friends but always bugging each other—have a tussle and are hot and thirsty. Already, many young readers will identify with two friends who are so dissimilar but yet “you rarely see them apart.” When Giraffe has trouble bending all the way down to the water, and ultimately falls in, all of the animals—including Bird—laugh at him. True to the age of the readership, this hurts Giraffe’s feelings, and he goes away, sad and humiliated. Bird, an insightful little chap for all his flighty ways—soon figures out that there is something he can do to help his friend. No moralizing here, just a little bird thinking about how his friend obviously feels. Young readers will be able to internalize the lesson of empathy well, as it is so subtle; Bender does not preach at all, but merely shows her readers—largely with her beautiful illustrations—one option in this social situation. The answer Bird comes up with is to make a laughing stock of himself: he sings, he dances, he teases the other animals, he makes a complete fool of himself, laughing all the time with the animals he is teasing—even Giraffe. “Anyone can see that the bird loves the attention…and the giraffe finally has a drinkand the reader feels happy and giggly watching Bird floating on his back, spitting water up into the air.”
—Karen Huenemann

Open Book Ontario “Read To Me

WHY KIDS WILL LOVE IT: The relationships in Don’t Laugh at Giraffe cleverly reflect the often-confusing relationships kids have with other kids. Figuring out how to be with others is tricky for children, and they will likely welcome the conversation the book can inspire. Bender’s illustrations are gorgeous, colourful and lively.

WHY GROWN UPS WILL LOVE IT: The book’s message is lovely and an important one for children to understand: we all need to be strong enough to stand up against bullies and to stick up for our friends. The book’s appeal doesn’t just lie in its message; Bender’s charming and funny writing and vibrant illustrations make Don’t Laugh at Giraffe a very entertaining book to read out loud.”

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Toronto Public Library

“Have you ever been totally puzzled by the peregrinations, bumps and grinds that children experience in their friendships? It was always endlessly fascinating for me to watch the way children bicker and argue with those children they declare to be their best friends. Both with my own children and those I taught, it was evident that there were constant readjustments being made in the relationships that children have with each other.

With that I would like to welcome a relatively new author who is able to capture that paradox. Rebecca Bender has just two picture books in print, and is a relatively new voice in Canadian literature, but what a voice it is. She has captured this unusual nature of friendship between children in both of the picture books available.

…Giraffe and Bird…resonated so well with children that it won the 2012 Blue Spruce award voted on by thousands of children across Ontario.

This title has been followed up by a hilarious sequel, Don’t Laugh at Giraffe.  In this book, Rebecca examines the delicate nature of embarrassment and friendship… How Bird handles this situation is a wonderful blueprint for friendship and problem solving.

Your children will go through many situations with their friends that they will have to grapple with and find solutions for. Having books on hand that show this as a normal process in friendships will support them in these journeys, and open the conversations with thinking about how to solve their own problems in a creative and positive way.”
Peggy Thomas, Toronto Public Library

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Rebecca Bender’s experiences in design and publishing (now as art director/designer at Pajama Press) have served her well, helping her create the touchable, plush animals that are Bird and Giraffe.  Bold acrylics fill the pages (try and find large sections of white anywhere) bringing the richness of the settings to act as companions for the distinct characters on which she focuses.  But Rebecca Bendergoes beyond just drawing animals in bold colours:  she creates personalities with expressive visages (hard to do on a small bird) and morphologies, with lessons to teach and learn.  Recognizing that we’re all a little bit Giraffe and a little Bird makes them even more endearing.”
—Helen Kubiw

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Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

“Giraffe and Bird run with the same crowd, but a friendship it is not, or at least not quite yet and certainly not in the traditional sense of the word. One way or another they manage to compete against each other for the title of most obnoxious throughout the course of any given day bit just because they don’t shared each others clothes and gossip all doesn’t mean that they don’t have mutual respect for one another. The truth of this matter is exposed when one average day at the watering hole turns into a moment of embarrassment that sends one slightly awkward friend away with his head hung low. What created this sad turn of events? The thoughtless words or rather giggles and guffaws of another… good thing he has a friend willing to show his true colors in order to set them straight.”

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Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“I was very much looking forward to seeing this second tale about Giraffe and Bird. I so enjoyed Rebecca Bender’s first story about the two (dare I say it?) friends. They were funny the first time, and she is able to keep the humor fresh.

…The artwork is so expressive and appealing to the book’s young audience. They will see the emotional reactions of each character clearly and know just how they are feeling. The colors are bright, the setting is lush and lovely, and the characters close-up and personal. I think that my favorite is a double page spread of the two friends facing the sadness of Giraffe’s gaffe and the solution. But, I also love the constantly changing design and the many perspectives that give this funny (and tender) story life. As with the first, the author makes some sparkling decisions about word choice, encouraging an expressive and engaging shared reading.

We can only hope that we will meet these two again!”

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Spirituality & Practice

“Author and illustrator Rebecca Bender has fashioned a delightful children’s picture book for kids ages 4 through 7. It is one thing for people to laugh with one another in unison and quite another thing to laugh at others. Seeing his friend humiliated and unhappy brings out Bird’s caring and creativity. Don’t Laugh at Giraffe covers both the good and the bad sides of laughter.”

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