Friday, February 8, 2019

Teach your Giraffe to Ski

I wanted to squeeze this review in before the end of winter. In case you need to...

Teach Your Giraffe to Ski 
by Viviane Elbee; illus. by Danni Gowdy
32 pages; ages 3 - 5
Albert Whitman & Company, 2018

theme: winter sports, family

Uh-oh. It’s snowing and your giraffe wants you to teach her to ski.

The illustrations shows her pointing to her skis, which are leaning against the wall by the coat hooks. So of course, you offer alternatives: hot cocoa, making snow giraffes –  but no! She gallops off to the ski slopes.

What I like about this book: it’s SO fun! As a former ski instructor, giraffe reminded me of some of my young charges. We didn’t call wedge turns “pizza” back in the stone age, but we did holler “snowplow!” when kids (and adults) forgot how to slow down. I also love the exclamations that the kid makes: Great spotties! Jumping spotties! I may incorporate them into my family-friendly list of thing to say.

What I really like: when giraffe does get to the Big Scary Slope, her kid – er, instructor – has to take a deep breath, figure out how to get off the scary ski lift, and go after her. Because giraffe needs her!

The ending is fun and surprising – and I won’t ruin it for you. Strap on a pair of skis and schuss to the nearest bookstore/library/bookmobile to get your own copy.

Beyond the Book:

Do some “before skiing” exercises: stand with feet under your hips (wide stance). Reach down to your toes. Then reach up to the sun. Lift your knees like you’re marching. Then do some jump ropes. Now stand on one foot. Then the other. Back to both feet, and bend your knees. Now you’re ready to hit the slopes!

Strap on imaginary skis and let’s go “skiing”.
First thing we have to learn is how to make our skis into a pizza slice – so we can slow down.
Next, make your skis like French fries, going in the same direction. Bend your knees a little.
Now we have to walk up the hill so we can ski down. We walk sideways like a crab.
Make an obstacle course of things to ski around – like a slalom course.
Try “skiing” backwards!
Use your imaginary skis like skates… that’s how you ski on flat roads.

You could make some indoor skis out of cardboard. These are great on kitchen floors and down long hallways. Here’s some directions, but be creative.

Create a ski hill for little people or lego people. Here’s how.

We're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It's a weekly event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy shoveled off a shelf at the library.


  1. Yes, this is half the fun of writing picture book, taking really whacky scenarios like a giraffe on skis and writing a cool story around them. Thanks for introducing me to this one.

  2. It's ski season here in San Francisco, when half the population of the city disappears to the mountains for long weekends. For those with small kids, this is perfect book to introduce skiing in a very funny, non-didactic way.

  3. Perfect winter read for children learning how to ski -- or dreaming about it one day. Sounds entertaining!

  4. What a fun book. Thanks for reviewing it.

  5. Such a fun title for a book. I love you ski-related activities:-)