A Place I Truly Belong: A Loveable Larry Story by Anita Hinton
This is a story about Larry, an adorable furry little giraffe. A little boy had dropped him on the path. When a zookeeper found him, he placed him on the wall of the giraffe enclosure. But Larry was a soft toy so could not join in with the real giraffes who were free to move around to their hearts’ content. He knew he was different and desperately longed to find a place where he could truly belong.
When Matariki came, and covered him in its magical star light, Larry discovered to his amazement that he could move his legs. He jumped down from the wall and ran out of the zoo.
On the way he asked others for help. Pio Pūkeko thought Larry’s home could be in the bush. But Larry hated fossicking in the undergrowth for grubs. Nor was Blossom the Possum’s home for him as giraffe’s hooves are not made for climbing a pohutukawa tree. Mallard Duck offered Larry a place in his pond, but when Larry flopped into the water, he soon found giraffes cannot swim.
It seemed hopeless but Larry did not give up. He kept looking until, exhausted, he curled up and fell asleep on a park bench. Here a little girl found him, hugged him, and took him home with her where he found true happiness at last.
Preschoolers will love this heartwarming story and will keep hoping Larry will succeed, and finally he does!
The softly coloured realistic illustrations, by Michelle Euinton and Shaila Awadh capture the mood of the story perfectly.
It is good too to find some te reo words have been woven into the story (there is a glossary at the back to help with that).
On the last page Anita Hinton tells us why she wrote this book. Having escaped from an abusive relationship, she, and her five-year-old daughter Neia suddenly found themselves homeless and in a desperate situation. To soothe both their souls she invented a story about the 50c giraffe which she had bought her two days previously from a local op shop and wrote it down on a paper napkin. She wanted Neia to know that ‘Finding the place you belong in this world can be a work in progress, but to never give up, and that if you keep following your heart you will always, always find it.”
And now, in this Picture Book, she is sharing this positive message with all other children who may be struggling, hurting, and have lost hope.
When she needed help the Women’s Refuge supported her. It is great that she is now paying it forward and is CEO for the charity I Got Your Backpack which supports survivors of domestic violence all over New Zealand. All the proceeds from the sale of this book will go to support this organization.
Reviewer: Lyn Potter
Mary Egan Publishing