I almost passed on reviewing Oh Dear, Geoffrey, the debut picture book by Gemma O'Neill, because it seemed like another jungle story about a clumsy giraffe. But, after reading it a few more times, I just couldn't get her marvelous illustrations out of my mind. Her style is vibrant and vivid, filled with texture and action and her meerkats are spot on. When we first meet Geoffrey, his "wibbly-wobbly" legs and "bendy-buckly" knees are tripping him up.
When Geoffrey tries to play with the other animals it just goes badly. Bending down to meet the meerkats or chatting with the elephants or a stop at the watering hole ends with splashes and tumbles.
Fed up, Geoffrey heads off to his favorite tree for a nibble to cheer himself up. In a happy surprise, Geoffrey, finds more than a tasty treat at his tree - he finds friends! Cheeky monkeys climb up his legs and neck and beautiful little blue birds root in the top branches where they can all hang out together! Best of all, the final spread with a sky splashed with stars, the friends looking up and sharing the night.
Oh Dear, Geoffrey can and probably will be read as an affirming story that encourages kids to find the good points in what seem like flaws, and that's great. But I think that what will linger on in the imaginations of the children who are lucky enough to read or have Oh Dear, Geoffrey read to them are the marvelous illustrations that bring the characters to life.
Source: Review Copy