WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John

by Lauren St. John
Puffin, 2006
ISBN: 978-0-14-241152-0
Middle Grade Contemporary/Fantasy
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.


A thrilling adventure classic-in-the- making! The night Martine Allen turns eleven years old is the night her life changes completely. Martine?s parents are killed in a fire, so she must leave her home to live on an African wildlife reserve with a grandmother she never even knew she had. When Martine arrives, she hears tales of a mythical animal living there?a white giraffe. They say no one has ever seen the animal, but it does leave behind footprints. Her grandmother insists that the white giraffe is just a legend, but then, one stormy night, Martine looks out her bedroom window straight into the eyes of the tall silvery animal. Could it be just Martine?s imagination, or is the white giraffe real? And if so, why is everyone keeping its existence a secret?


A pleasant contemporary read with magical elements, The White Giraffe follows the adventures of a young girl named Martine.  After losing her parents in a fire, Martine finds herself in South Africa, living on a game reserve.  But she doesn't feel welcome by either her grandmother or the kids at school, so when she hears about a white giraffe, she decides to check it out.  What she finds is far more than she could ever have imagined. Finding courage and talents she didn't know she had, Martine faces a future unlike any she could have imagined.

I think what I enjoyed most about this book is the vivid setting that the author creates. I could almost feel the heat and hear the animals. And the idea of riding a giraffe is a fun one, although staying on would definitely be a problem.  The magical elements fit into the story fairly well, proceeding as they do from native beliefs expressed through Grace, a Zulu sangamo (healer). The story is an interesting one as Martine befriends the giraffe and then has to deal with her ability to heal as well as poachers and mean kids at school. Recommended.


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