“Chee-Lin” A Giraffe’s Journey
by James Rumford
This is another review I had been meaning to post and so I am now as I promised my writer friend Joanna, I would.
The unusual name of the book attracted my attention and the rich textured paintings on every page opposite clever layouts of text boxed inside a patterned frame depicting basket weaves, motifs etc, gives this a very cultural look. Tweega (Swahili name for giraffe) is captured in Africa and shipped to Malindi where a young boy looks after him. After spending a short time in India his travels take him to China where he is gifted to the emperor of China and proclaimed Chee-lin meaning a good omen of peace and good times. He is befriended by a servant girl and lives out his life in Peking. His journey while at times sad is interesting and one learns something about the cultures. The story was inspired by a 1414 painting of a giraffe and the author has done much research to bring this story about, including a map and a poem in both Chinese and English.
James Rumford studied languages in the peace corps, and traveled to Africa, Asia and Afghanistan, was a lecturer in Rwanda. One of his first books was the Cloudmakers. He now lives in Hawaii. An interesting, tender book for ages 4 and up. I love how we learn much about other countries and cultures from afar.