Monday, August 26, 2019

Review - The Chalk Giraffe

The Chalk Giraffe
by Kirsty Paxton
illustrated by Megan Lötter
Date: 2018
Publisher: Capstone Editions
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

A little girl's imagination springs to life when the chalk giraffe she drew on the pavement begins talking to her. But then the fickle giraffe begins making demands, and the girl must draw surroundings to fulfill his requests...a tree, soft grass, and animal friends. But nothing seems to please him! This delightful rhyming story escalates until the girl draws a laughing giraffe companion that cheers up the grumpy giraffe at last.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I think the premise of this book is cuter than the book itself ultimately turned out to be. A little girl draws a giraffe with chalk, and the creature starts talking to her. Okay, that's fine. Unfortunately, the giraffe is entirely unpleasant, complaining constantly, and the girl eventually has enough and smudges it out with her shoe. The next day, though, she feels guilty and redraws the giraffe. Inexplicably, she's suddenly part of the chalk drawing, and there she realizes that the giraffe is lonely. So she draws it a whole jungle full of friends. That's still not enough. The giraffe then draws himself a girlfriend, and all is right with the world.

I guess there's something to be said about promoting heteronormative relationships as a cure-all, but I won't bother going into that here. There are enough problems with the rest of the book... including the terribly clunky meter of the rhyming text. There are also some issues with punctuation. The text could probably be improved if more attention were paid to the technical details of the writing.

The illustrations are probably the best thing about the book, but aside from the dark "chalkboard" background, the pictures don't really look all that chalky. (There's really no excuse for this these days. There are plenty of chalk brushes available for programs like Photoshop, which would've made the illustrations look much more like authentic chalk drawings.) The pictures are cute and very colourful, but at times they rely too much on the text. (For example, when the girl goes into the drawing, she suddenly has "stick legs and arms". It's one of those "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" things, because she looks exactly the same otherwise, and if the text hadn't mentioned it, I might not have noticed. I would've preferred to see her look more like a child's drawing so that it would be clearer when she was in the imaginary world.)

Overall, I didn't like this one as much as I thought I would. The giraffe is annoyingly whiny, and the drawings don't look much like chalk. The premise is cute and creative, but a good premise alone doesn't make a great picture book.

Thank you to NetGalley and Capstone Editions for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: 2/5
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.57 out of 5

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