Welcome to a world of fantasy you will not want to leave!
Author: Sofia Chanfreau
Illustrator: Amanda Chanfreau
Finnish original: Giraffens hjärta är ovanligt stort
Publisher: Schildts & Söderstöms, 2022
Genre: children’s novel
Number of pages: 206 pp.
Reading material: Swedish original, English translation
Vega is ten years old and lives with her father on Giraffe Island. Life goes along in its usual way, which in Vega’s case means anything but usual. She sees things no one else does, like imaginary animals that keep her company. The bathroom is home to a gray bear whose fur is lathered with shampoo, and on the way to school she encounters Atle the asphalt beaver and the crosswalk zebra Zacharias.
Vega has never met her mother, and when she asks her father and her grandfather Hektor about her mother, they speak in mysteries. When Vega’s father gets a not-so-nice girlfriend and Vega gets an unexpected pen pal, she decides to set out on an adventure to find out more about her mother.
Colored by magical realism, A Giraffe’s Heart Is Unbelievably Large is a tale of longing to be part of a family, to find one’s place in the world, and to be loved as one is. It’s a superb read for a child alone or for parents and children together.
“In its magical realism, the work takes us to places and moods that shimmer with something rare and fine. We see the world through the eyes of the narrator and the main characters, and captivating connections form between fantasy and reality. The narration is borne along by beautiful language, surprising transitions, and humor. Equally generous and idiosyncratic are the book’s illustrations, which carry us off to milieus we are in no hurry to leave.”
– Finlandia Junior Prize jury
“Together they have created an imagination-stimulating story, with fantasy sprouting from the book’s pages. […] The undercurrent of this playful, freshly humorous story is serious, bringing to mind such authors as Shaun Tan and Tormod Haugen.”
– BTJ magazine
“The cover image alone is a bulls-eye that accurately reflects the enticing delight and terror of Vega’s magical world. […] An enchanting debut that has its heart in the right place.”
– Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper
“The text and images of the work do a superb job of complementing each other and building up the magical realism. Amanda Chanfreau’s detailed images are meticulously drawn. The shadowing in particular creates a magical ambiance. The whole book exudes creativity, and there is no lack of humor either. […] The text and illustrations lead the reader on a thrilling journey that blurs the line between imagination and reality. The book inspires readers to examine life with wonder and an open heart […]. I wouldn’t be surprised if this book became a classic.”
– Österbottens tidning newspaper
“The illustrations are detailed, and the images’ dark shadows add a mystical depth to the story.”
– Åbo underrättelser newspaper
“A Giraffe’s Heart Is Unbelievably Large speaks beautifully of a child’s right to be herself, with all of her distinctive traits and unique quirks.”
– Lastenkirjahylly literature blog
About the authors:
Sofia Chanfreau & Amanda Chanfreau