Zeraffa Giraffa by Dianne Hofmeyr

Zeraffa Giraffa

Written by Dianne Hofmeyr
Illustrated by Jane Ray

5+ readers   7+ readers   
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The Lovereading4Kids comment

One of our Books of the Year 2014 A giraffe in Paris! The idea sounds ridiculous but this beautiful picture book tells the true story of how the Pasha of Egypt sent a young giraffe called Zeraffa as a gift to the King of France. Captured on the plains of Africa, Zeraffa is too young to walk at first. Instead she is transported tied on to the side of a camel. From Africa Zeraffa, accompanied at all times by her Atir, a young boy who attends to her every need, travels by foot over land and briefly by sea when she must. Jane Ray’s illustrations bring alive every detail of the journey and Zeraffa’s triumphant welcome to Paris. They are especially entertaining capturing the ridiculous fashions that spring up around the city as everyone imitates all thing giraffe!

If you are a fan of Jane's artwork you will love her magical tale Ahmed and the Feather Girl, beautifully illustrated throughout with her detailed, fine drawings and vibrant use of colour. You can download an extract of it here.


Zeraffa Giraffa by Dianne Hofmeyr

Jane Ray's wonderful illustrations accompany the amazing true story of Zeraffa the Giraffe and her travels from her home in Africa to Europe, sent as a gift by the Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt to King Charles X of France in 1826.

A young boy, Atir, takes care of Zeraffa on her epic journey, by felucca down the Nile, and by ship across the sea. Zeraffa grows so tall that a hole is cut in the deck for her neck to go through, and the sailors sing songs as she gazes down at them. In France, Atir leads her through the countryside, and thousands of people marvel at Zeraffa in her yellow taffeta cloak. The whole of Paris falls in love with Zeraffa. The King builds her a special house in the Jardin des Plantes. On warm nights, the young princess, granddaughter of the king, visits and listens while Atir whispers stories to Zeraffa of a hot land far away, and on the breeze they all feel the kiss of Africa.


The stunning illustrations by Jane Ray are full of the most amazing and atmospheric detail and capture the feel of each stage of the journey. A wonderful book. Parents in Touch An amazing story by an award-winning author Independent School Parent This is a truly beautiful tale Your Cotswold Family 'Each spread is a delight, a chapter in itself, with so much to read, observe and wonder at. A very special book indeed.

'This is a magical book about a true story...Ray's illustrations ...full of luminous colour and decorative patterns. Hofmeyr's test, took has a romantic lyricism... Both the images and the text make us feel the wonder and love that Zereffa inspired.'

- Nicolette Jones's Children's Book of the Week 'This is a magical book about a true story...Ray's illustrations ...full of luminous colour and decorative patterns. Hofmeyr's test, took has a romantic lyricism... Both the images and the text make us feel the wonder and love that Zereffa inspired.

- Nicolette Jones's Children's Book of the Week 'The inherently exotic figure of the giraffe is richly celebrated in this incredible true story ... Jane Ray's beautiful illustrations bring this curious and unlikely story alive, capturing the magnificence of Zereffa in alien surroundings.

'Sumptuously illustrated... A fascinating book.'

'exquisitely composed pictures'

'Jane Ray's illustrations are, as always, magical... The curves and grace of the paintings; the details, colours and characters in the scenes all build to create a sense of beauty and care and wonder... The lush language...is the kind of language that we should be whispering into the ears of our young children and encouraging our older children to form with their own mouths. It is beautiful and evocative and mysterious. It is the kind of language that can take you on an adventure... I love the way the whole book mirrors the character of Zeraffa - graceful and wise, playful and mischievous, but always with an air of magic and wonder.'

'The story of Zeraffa the Giraffe reads like a fairy tale. And is even more astonishing for being true! ... Jane Ray's illustrations are absolutely beautiful, giving the true story of Zeraffa a mythical feel. Zeraffa is a lovely book to give as a gift. The story will appeal to younger and older children, and adults will enjoy reading it too.'

'Gorgeous illustrations by Jane Ray enhance a topical tale by Diane Hoymeyr ... Rich in detail ...make beautiful presents for over-fives.'

'Beautiful... Jane Ray's illustrations bring alive every detail.'

'Wonderful... stunning... fantastic... The vivid illustrations really bring this amazing story to life.'

'Hofmeyr's narrative is short, but packs a huge amount in, and Jane Ray's illustrations perfectly match the singularity and strangeness of the story, a fairytale that just happens to be true. Each spread is a delight, a chapter in itself, with so much to read, observe and wonder at. A very special book indeed.'

'assuredly this beautifully told and illustrated story is an example of the oft said 'Truth is stranger than fiction.'

About the Author

Dianne Hofmeyr

Dianne Hofmeyr grew up next to the sea, on the southern tip of Africa, and has travelled just about everywhere in Africa since. Her father was a mapmaker - helping her to plot not only the stars and unfamiliar terrain but also the texture and smell of new experiences. Her writing is a result of journeys with notebook and camera through places like Eygpt, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. Her teenage fiction has won the prestigious M-Net Book prize, judged with adult fiction, the Sanlam GOLD for Youth Literature (twice), the Sanlam SILVER award, the YOUNG AFRICA AWARD, an IBBY HONOURS BOOK award and a YOUNG AFRICA award. In South Africa, 'The Waterbearer' has won the M.E.R. award and is currently shortlisted for the Sunday Times Book of the Year.

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Book Info


40 pages
Interest Age: From 3


Dianne Hofmeyr
More books by Dianne Hofmeyr

Author's Website



Frances Lincoln Childrens Books an imprint of Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd

Publication date

3rd April 2014




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