The White Giraffe

by Lauren St. John

read April/May 2009

the-white-giraffe-cover1Eleven-year-old Martine is living a hapy content life in England with her mum and dad until one day tragedy strikes.  A terrible fire rushes through Martine’s home and she must make a fearful jump from her 2nd story window to escape.

Martine is the lone survivor.  Martine is baffled when her parents will sends her to live with her grandmother on a game reserve in South Africa.  Martine has never even heard of Gwyn Thomas.  Her parents never spoke a word about her.  Martine is so unsure of her feelings.  Mostly she is numb.  Numb to the idea of going to live in South Africa, numb to the idea of a grandmother she has never heard of, numb to the fact that her parents are gone forever.

Martine has little choice in the matter and off to Sabuwona Game Reserve in South Africa she goes.  It is clear Gwyn Tomas (by the way, she refers to her as ‘Gywn Thomas’ through the whole book…I thought it was funny) is a no nonsense kind of person.  In fact, she doesn’t seem to even want Martine there.  Sabuwona’s saving grace for Martine is Tendai, one of the workers on the reserve.  He is a native Zulu and shares many tales with Martine.

Tendai took Martine to see Grace, a traditonal Zulu healer, for some good food.  While she was there, Grace tells Martine that she “has the gift.”  Martine has no idea what this means.  There are also legends and folklore about a young child who will ride a white giraffe.

Martine must struggle to fit in, not only with her own grandmother, but also with school and this strange new place in South Africa.  Little does she know, she is at the center of one of the oldest prophecies in the land.

My daughter BEGGED to read an extra chapter each night.  She LOVED it.  It’s actually very cute, she bought it for me at her school bookfair.  I have a passion for all things giraffe, which I suppose makes me easy to shop for.  But she saw this book and spent her bookfair money on me.  Isn’t she sweet!  I really enjoyed the novel as well.  I also heard that they were making a movie version coming soon.  I think it would make a good movie.  Kids would enjoy it…I mean what kid wouldn’t want to ride a giraffe??? A white one at that?  I’m actually so pathetic with my giraffe obsession that I have attempted to find photographs or art of a white giraffe to add to my collection.  YES!  They do exist!  I was unaware.


Themes- parental death, bullying, supernatural powers, poachers, animal death

Characters- Martine Allen, Gwyn Thomas, Tendai, Grace, Ben, Jemmy the Giraffe

Setting- modern day England, modern day South Africa

Topic- Eleven year-old Martine Allen has lost her house and her family in a terrible fire.  To make things worse, she is shipped off to South Africa to live with a grandmother she didn’t know existed.  She struggles to find out where she fits in in this strange new world and it’s legends and myths.


~ by jennifermorrill on May 18, 2009.

5 Responses to “The White Giraffe”

  1. This sounds adorable! I may have to pick this one up at the library for my “child”. That’s inner child since I don’t have any 🙂

  2. Having my girls gives me an excuse to shop in the children’s and Teen sections of the bookstore. Believe me, I enjoy middle readers as much as my daughter. I remember searching the bookstore for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and finally asked an employee. She gives me this look and says, “Ummm thats in the children’s section.”

    Eh…I love kids books. Even though the snotty bookstore employee tried to make me feel dumb for it.

    On a side note, that book is NOT a “children’s” book. It’s more in the teen level! I know the NY times has everything that isn’t YA or up as Children’s. Oh well. I need sleepy, I am rambling now 🙂

  3. cheese

  4. you spelled happy “hapy” in the first sentence!!!

  5. Nice website but pls add a FREE sample of the book the WHILE BOOK thnks

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