Oh Dear, Geoffrery! by Gemma O’Neill, published by Templar Books

All the rain recently has meant our outdoor family fun was somewhat limited to a few quick dashes to the park in between downpours. And with rain comes mud and puddles – perilous for our pushchair but a delight for our toddler. She’s enjoyed all the splashing and squelching almost as much as riding in her favourite blue swing.

But as she’s keen to point out to us when we read Emma O’Neill’s tale of Geoffrey the clumsy giraffe, he doesn’t enjoy his experience of puddles and mud one bit.

We first meet Geoffrey as he tries in earnest to make friends with the meerkats, rhinos, elephants and zebras, who are all so much closer to the ground than he is. Wobbling, teetering, ‘bending and buckling’, Geoffrey is the butt of the others’ jokes and jeers.

Despondent, his day takes a turn when some monkeys ask if they can climb his long neck to reach the treetops. Geoffrey eagerly obliges, much to the monkeys’ delight. Then, standing tall with pride, the birds in the trees tweet their delight as they greet their tall new companion, who shares their view from the trees’ lofty branches.

The story is perfectly aligned to beautiful illustrations, which bring movement and life to the pages – the droplets of water and clouds of sand dancing and billowing off the page, and a final double page of the twinkling night sky. This is a charming tale, reminding us that, if we keep looking, we can all find a way to be ourselves, help others, and bring happiness to new friends.