A Giraffe Goes to Paris

by Mary Tavener Holmes, John Harris, and Jon Cannell

In 1827, the Egyptian Pashir gave the King of France a remarkable gift: a giraffe... read more

In 1827, the Egyptian Pashir gave the King of France a remarkable gift: a giraffe named Belle. This fictionalized account of Belle’s journey from Egypt to France is told in the voice of Atir, Belle’s loving Sudanese caretaker. Appealing details—based on fact—about the journey chronicle the challenging logistics of transporting and taking care of the huge creature (a hole was cut in the ship’s deck to accommodate Belle’s neck and head as she stood in the hold), and the extraordinary reception Belle received in France. Atir walked with Belle 500 miles from Marseille to Paris, with Belle attired in a waterproof cape and boots. “I am serious . . . She was not used to walking such distances.” Along the way the giraffe was admired and feted as a wonder to behold. Her arrival in Paris was celebrated with souvenirs, songs, and more. Historical artifacts and documents and whimsical illustrations add even greater appeal to an already captivating story. Brief source notes are provided. (Ages 7–11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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