This unusual and imaginative story by author and illustrator Kenneth Kraegel is about two lonely girls who live in a palace “in the far reaches of the wild savannah.” One of these young girls is Delphine, an orphan and servant girl for Queen Theodora. She is very sad and lonely, and sings to lighten her load.
The second little girl is Princess Beatrice, a niece of the queen, who has been sent to live with the Queen because she didn’t get along with her new stepmother.
Delphine is excited to have a girl her own age come to the palace, but Beatrice is turns out to be a mean, snobby bully who breaks a mirror and then threatens to tell the Queen that Delphine was the guilty party. Again, Delphine sings, this time at night, “with heavy, worried tears.”
To Delphine’s delighted surprise, a dozen friendly giraffes, attracted by her singing, come and take her out from her window and into the savannah.
Alas, she feels obliged to ask them to take her back, and they return her – but not to her own window, rather to Beatrice’s! Beatrice was livid, but then Delphine noticed a picture of Beatrice’s mother by her bedside, and understood that Beatrice must be lonely too. So she sang for her.
The next day, Delphine was brought before the queen, and told that from then on, she would not be a servant, but would be the court singer.
Beatrice apologized to Delphine: “Thank you for being so kind, even when I have been so cruel.” Delphine then offered to take Beatrice out with the giraffes, and they happily explored the night, together.
The vivid and simply-drawn watercolor-and-ink artwork by Kraegel enchanted me from the very first page. This is a magical book that teaches some positive lessons.
Published by Candlewick Press, 2015