A recent visit to Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY, reminded me how much I love giraffes. Do you have a favorite wild animal?

A granddaughter requested a giraffe story for her birthday several years ago. I did some research because I wanted the story to be “authentic” even though it was fiction. Giraffes are fascinating creatures.

I’m a better writer than artist. I illustrated the book with my own drawings, one-time, one-of-a-kind illustrations. I tried hard to keep the drawings simple, but I found that impossible. I had to draw not only giraffes, but many other kinds of African animals. When you read the story, you will understand. What a challenge!

Here’s the story. The photos I included here are courtesy of Pixabay.


By Beth Westcott

     The early morning sun spreads its golden rays. The grassland with acacia trees stretches out for miles and miles.  Jilly and Jerry Giraffe play tag with their giraffe friends. Nearby, black-and-white-striped zebras graze on the grass. Brown gnus, shaking their great horns, walk toward the river. A herd of gray elephants play in the water.

Far off, under some trees, a pride of lions settles down to rest during the day.  Suddenly a great “ROAR” echoes across the grassland. The little giraffes stop in their tracks. The zebras look up. The gnus turn around. And the elephants raise their trunks.

“I wish I could roar like a lion,” says Jilly.

“I can do that,” says Jerry. “Watch me.”

He opens his mouth and takes a deep breath. “Maaa!”

All the little giraffes giggle. They try it too. “Maaa!” Maaa!” “Maaa!”

Mama shakes her head. “Giraffe’s don’t roar. They speak softly.”

“Oh,” say Jilly and Jerry

Jilly watches the zebras. “Mama, I wish I had stripes like a zebra. They are so pretty.”

Jerry turns his head to look at his spots. “I like brown spots.”

“Our brown and yellow fur help us hide in the trees and stay safe,” Mama explains

“Oh,” says Jilly. “You are pretty, Mama.”

Mama smiles. “Thank you, Jilly.”

“If I had horns like the gnus, I would shake them and scare away the lions,” Jerry says.

“I wish I had big horns,” Jilly sighs. She watches the gnus drinking from the river.

Mama says, “We have long legs and long necks. We are taller than all the other animals on the grasslands. We don’t need horns like the gnus.”

Jilly and Jerry stretch their necks. They look down at their legs. They watch Papa Giraffe stretch his neck and reach the highest leaves on an acacia tree with his long, long tongue. They stick out their tongues and giggle.

At the river, Jilly and Jerry spread apart their legs and lean way, way down to sip the cool water. Drops of water fall on their backs. They look up to see a mama elephant teaching her calf to bathe.

“If I had a trunk like an elephant, I wouldn’t have to spread my legs and bend down to drink,” Jerry grumbles.

“I wish I had an elephant’s trunk,” Jilly says.

Mama looks at the twins with her soft brown eyes. “God gave lions their roar, zebras their stripes, gnus their horns, and elephants their trunks. He made you the way He knew you should be. You’re perfect just the way you are to do what giraffes do.”

“I’m glad I’m a giraffe,” Jerry says.

“Me too,” Jilly says. “For a giraffe, I’m just right.”