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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Like all children, Rafi wants to be just like his parents. As a baby giraffe, Rafi dreams of eating the leaves off the tall trees just like his father. Try as he might, even learning to jump almost like a kangaroo, Rafi doesn’t quite make it. When his grandfather catches him trying, not only does Rafi receives a scolding, but he falls from his jump and injures his leg. Saddened to be found out, Rafi runs away, only to get lost in the jungle just when a forest fire starts, sending wild animals helter-skelter looking for refuge. Now he wonders if he’ll ever find his family again. Alone and frightened, with an injured leg, Rafi is about to embark on an adventure, one that makes him a hero and one that takes him even farther from home.
Valerie Lee Baker’s picture book story, Baby Rafi: The Runaway Giraffe, is an engaging story that will capture the attention of young readers and, hopefully, instill in them some of the importance behind the rules parents make. The plot follows Rafi’s life from his birth through his first year. The young giraffe manages to get himself into all kinds of predicaments as his adventure deepens and his angst at being separated from his family, perhaps indefinitely, will certainly pluck at the heartstrings of young readers. Like all children, Rafi is on a learning curve full of mistakes and lessons learned. The descriptive narrative and dialogue are well constructed, and the colorful illustrations certainly help move this story along. Aside from the important life lessons presented in Rafi’s story, this is a fun read.