Spaghetti Giraffe and the Egg of Courage by Sarah Johnson
Have you ever wondered what happens to the dribs and drabs of food that inadvertently get lost during cooking? Those splashes of sauce and dropped pasta that slink into those hard to reach places?
Author Sarah Johnson has done the imagining for us, in this utterly charming, junior novel.
Spaghetti Giraffe and the other under-cooker animals are the products of Mina Cucina's culinary disasters. Normally, they live peacefully underneath her oven. But Gorgon - one of Mina's oldest and best friends - needs their help. He doesn't have the courage to ask Mina to marry him and there's a baker on the prowl. The under-cooker animals are determined to help Grogon, but to do that they must face their own fears.
This is the sequel to The Spaghetti Giraffe, which first introduced the food scrap animals. While the sequel can be read as a stand-alone, the magic of the books deserve a full serving. There's plans for a third book to be released in 2020 too.
Johnson said the idea for the books first came to her while sitting on a plane. Since then, Spaghetti Giraffe and his friends have 'got inside' her head, demanding more adventures. The story is sweet and fun, and holds a deeper message about courage and bravery, friendship and love.
Black and white illustrations by well-known kiwi artist Deborah Hinde (Moo and Moo and The Little Calf Too, and Hare being just two of her books) add to the charm. She brings Johnson's story to life with her whimsical sketches.
The book features short chapters and would make a wonderful introduction to novels for younger readers. While the book may be aimed at junior readers, Johnson doesn't talk down to them. Her prose is poetic and serve as an inspiration and teaching point for those beginning to dip their feet into reading and writing. One such sentence appears just pages into the book, heralding what you can expect throughout; "Icicles dripped and plinked in passing gusts of frosty wind. Small birds huddled, and large ones circled, their shadows sliding like dark sighs over the cold white world below".
It's also makes for a fabulous read-aloud, instantly capturing the attention of my new entrant school-aged children. The idea of animals lurking in the kitchen opened up their own imaginations and inspired them to create their own comics about what could be found under our oven.
Spaghetti Giraffe and the Egg of Courage is a wonderful, magical read with a lot of heart. I can't wait to read the next adventure.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Flat Bed Press, RRP $17.99