Imagine a giraffe that can sail from Alexandria, Egypt, to Marseille, France, in a boat with a special hole for her neck. Imagine a giraffe that can walk from Marseille to Paris in forty-one days, wearing stylish boots and a cape. Imagine a giraffe that captures the attention of a hundred thousand spectators in Paris as she parades through the city, inspiring paintings, poetry, porcelain designs, and even an exotic hairstyle. Imagine Belle, a gift from the pasha of Egypt to the king of France in 1827, a giraffe who made history.
This book presents Belle’s true story, told in the imagined words of her devoted Sudanese caretaker, Atir, who accompanied her on her journey to Paris and stayed with her till her death eighteen years later. Illustrated with artifacts and paintings from the nineteenth century and with Jon Cannell’s jaunty artwork, Belle’s remarkable story both captivates and informs. An author’s note and pronunciation guide are included.
About the Author
Mary Tavener Holmes graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University with an MA and a PhD. For more than thirty years, she has worked as a curator, teacher, and author in the field of European art. She is also the author of My Travels with Clara and, with John Harris, A Giraffe Goes to Paris. She lives in New York City with her husband, three children, and two cats.
John Harris, a former editor at The Smithsonian Institution and the J. Paul Getty Museum, lives in Santa Monica, California. His most recent book is Jingle Bells: How the Holiday Classic Came to Be.