This is special. It is based on a true story, a journey that took two years and 4000 miles--in 1825-27. When a giraffe is taken from its beloved acacia grove in Africa and sets sail for France, it does not welcome the adventure at first. Everything is foreign; nothing is familiar. But that will change. And French artist Laurent Gapaillard's arresting landscapes offer a panoramic view of each episode.
Taking his cue from the imagined perspective of the captive animal, author Jan Wahl crafts a sympathetic tale with roots in reality. The giraffe was an exotic creature, never before seen in Europe. This one was a gift from the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt to King Charles X of France.
She became a sensation throughout the country--her final journey of 500 miles took 41 days of walking, since there was no vehicle large enough to safely carry her. She was subsequently pictured on textiles, crockery, soap, knickknacks, furniture, and more, as the country fell in love with this amazing creature. A newly developed musical instrument became the "giraffe piano."
France's writers also admired the giraffe. As a child, Gustave Flaubert visited the unique creature. So did Marie-Henri Beyle (Stendhal). Honoré de Balzac published, in awe, a love letter to her. After 18 years of fame in Paris, the giraffe died in 1845.
Jan Wahl has dedicated much of his adult life to writing for children, authoring previous Creative Editions books such as The Enchanted Sled and Bear Dance. His first children's title, published in 1964, was illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
Parisian designer and illustrator Laurent Gapaillard has lent his talents to animated feature films, television series, video games, and novels. Recent gallery exhibitions have also featured his work. The Long Tall Journey is his first project for Creative Editions.