Monday, July 15, 2013
Title: The White Giraffe
By: Lauren St. John
The White Giraffe is Lauren St. John’s first children’s book, and the first of a series of four novels now known as “The Legend of the Animal Healer.” The idea for this book came to St. John, who now lives in London, as she recalled growing up on a game reserve in Zimbabwe with a pet giraffe. This early experience with animals fueled her passion for wildlife conservation and adventure, key features in her books for children.
The book begins with the hero, Martine, being orphaned at age eleven in a tragic house fire and then forced to move to the Sawubona game reserve in South Africa to live with a grandmother she scarcely knows. Martine doesn’t think her grandmother likes her or wants her there, but, as the narrative unfolds, we learn there’s more to the story, including family secrets, a white giraffe no one has ever seen except for its footprints, and a mysterious healing power that legend says rests in a chosen one. Feeling isolated as only an orphan can, Martine copes with fears of poachers stalking the great animals of the reserve as well as mundane and terrifying adjustment to a new school and new classmates.
This fast-paced adventure/mystery/fantasy is a read-alike for Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot or Flush or Scat, but with an extra, fantastical twist. Both are quests to find the truth, and both are concerned with wildlife conservation, St. John’s in Africa, Hiaasen’s in the Florida swamplands. Next in the series is Dolphin Song, in which Martine and Ben continue their adventures saving wildlife.