January 09, 2019

Will Giraffe Laugh?

Written and illustrated by Hilary Leung
Cartwheel Books (Scholastic)
38 pp.
Ages 2-5
January 2019

For a sweet concept lesson in how friends and a chuckle can make life better, it's Hilary Leung's newest board book Will Giraffe Laugh?
From Will Giraffe Laugh? by Hilary Leung
When Giraffe wakes up grumpy, his friends are there to help. Bear brings on his juggling skills, with no less than a ball, cherries, a plunger, a toothbrush and strawberry, but that doesn't seem to do the trick. Talented Crocodile performs a puppet show for Giraffe who ends up with a puppet stuck to his nose. Sheep makes an awesome balloon dog which unfortunately deflates and torpedoes into Giraffe's eye. Even Frog's versatile tongue gets out of hand and ties up Giraffe while seeking a fly. Finally Ladybug (remember her from Will Ladybug Hug?) tries for a smile with some flowers that only cause Giraffe to sneeze.
From Will Giraffe Laugh? by Hilary Leung
And then it starts to rain. Now everyone is sad, and Giraffe uses all their tricks to attempt to cheer up his friends. The tricks may not work but some humourous tumbles into a muddy swamp has everyone laughing.
From Will Giraffe Laugh? by Hilary Leung
Concept book–books that teach concepts like numbers to very young children–can be dull and lifeless but Hilary Leung's board books, all based on animal questions, are not. Of course, they use bright colours and bold shapes with simple text but the depth of the messages and the emotions evoked in the eyes and body language of Hilary Leung's characters make them neither boring nor facile. In Will Giraffe Laugh?, there is a message about emotions, particularly grumpiness or sadness. While it may be unreasonable to wipe away a friend's depression–though we tend to try to do so–it may be possible to draw someone out of a bad mood, and Will Giraffe Laugh? teaches that, with a little effort and some wonderful friends, relief is within reach. It may be a little messy and not as planned but, in the end, it's a worthwhile endeavour to help improve another's life, even if only temporarily.

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