Monday, April 20, 2009

Explanation Required

For the first time since November, we had all our Paige Turners in attendance. It was especially nice to have Sarah there, since it was her birthday…and she is not as giraffe-crazy as some of the other girls. But thanks to Erinn and Amanda, we had cupcakes and decorations. And thanks to everyone who came we had a night of smiles and laughs and chatter about our chosen giraffe books – Tall Blondes and Giraffes? Giraffes!

Tall Blondes was picked because it had several reviews like this one: “This book contains the most captivating journey through the history and lives of giraffes that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. As a giraffophile myself, I was amazed at the extent of new, fascinating information contained within each page. It has wonderful illustrations that complement and enhance the reading. "Tall Blondes" is a must-have for every giraffe lover; it's a graceful, distinctive work that is truly deserving of its unique subject matter.

As a group, we feel that the book falls very short of this review. It is very quote heavy. And the quotes aren’t necessarily all related to each other or arranged in a way that reads well. There are certainly some interesting facts about giraffes, but we wouldn’t call it “a captivating journey.” It isn’t until the last couple chapters when the author moves away from listing facts and quotes and actually creates something of a narrative. Those last chapters were ok, but it took a lot to get there.

Highlights from Tall Blondes:
  • We learned a giraffe can kick in all directions. With this skill, they can decapitate a lion. Can you imagine that?

  • We also learned that giraffes have amazing circulatory systems. Valves in their neck veins keep blood moving one direction so they can lower their head without all the blood rushing downhill and pooling there. Also, their leg veins have thicker walls, and their skin is stretched tight to keep blood moving back up toward their heart. Scientists are trying to use the design of giraffe’s legs to design space suits that will keep astronaut’s circulatory systems from weakening while they are in space. Pretty cool right?

  • The story of Victor – a giraffe who tragically passed away after he fell and did the splits in a Great Britain zoo in 1977. I’ll have to borrow a copy of Tall Blondes (mine went back to the library) and share the tribute that was printed in the paper. It’s quite something. Many of the girls who read Tall Blondes said they teared up as they read Victor’s story.

Giraffes? Giraffes! was picked because it looked ridiculous and hilarious. It definitely lived up to our expectations. It’s kind of like “Napoleon Dynamite” – you have to be in the mood for that kind of movie, but if you are, it’s hilarious.

My personal favorite correlation between the two books: space travel. As mentioned above, science is trying to take some giraffe wisdom to improve the design of space suits. This makes complete sense, since according to Giraffes? Giraffes!, these majestic creatures migrated to Earth from Venus by way of a conveyor belt. Coincidence? Most certainly.

Overall, I think it’s totally appropriate that the books this month were both a conglomeration of nonsequitors. Why is that? Because it was Katie’s month to pick our books. And as her own blog suggests…with Katie, there’s usually some explanation required.

Looking forward: It’s the last month of our round robin season. We will be reading Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. Picked by Christine.

See you in May!