The Giraffe Who was Afraid of Heights

Frugal Family Tree-October 2011

Its a wonderful story about overcoming your fears, friendship and kindness. The back of the book there are great facts about each of the animal characters in the story and how they live in the wild. There is a match up game and even a section you can cut out.

Feathered Quill Book Reviews - March 2010

On the African savannah many animals could be seen lounging in the sun or grabbing a bite to eat. Some were nibbling at the grasses or, in the case of the giraffes, curling their tongues around the branches of trees to pull the tender leaves into their mouths. Regrettably, there was one giraffe family who was having a problem. Their son, who was splayed out on the ground, had a branch in his mouth. It must have been an embarrassment because no one had ever heard of a giraffe who “was afraid of heights.” This was a matter for a doctor to solve. They gave the boy a map and he was on his way …ground level of course, just above the grasses and the flowers. This was a very unusual case and only a doctor could help someone with such an unusual fear, very unusual indeed!

On his way to the doctor’s, the young giraffe ran into a velvet monkey who was “afraid of climbing trees.” They decided to walk together and as they were passing by a river they ran into yet another animal who was having a problem. There was a hippo, with great big tears running down his cheeks, who told them he was afraid of water. The giraffe and velvet monkey looked on with great sympathy and said, “We’re on our way to the village to see the doctor, too. Maybe we can find a way for you to go with us.” The three of them had to put on their thinking caps because getting across the river would be a real problem. The monkey was dangling his toes in the water when all of a sudden a crocodile was seen swimming toward him. Was the monkey going to end up being a tasty lunch for the crocodile? Would the three animals be able to help each other overcome their fears?

This charming story of three baby animals who conquer their fears together will delight the young child. Many children have little anxieties and fears, something that is quite normal, but as parents we are sometimes at a loss as to how to deal with them. Little stories such as this one, won’t cure a bit of anxiety, but will reassure a youngster that they aren’t the only ones who have them. The story was simply delightful and the artwork was beautiful and quite complimentary. In the back of the book can be found some factual information on the animals in the book, including animal adaptations and fun facts. There are a couple of suggested activities, one of which includes a template for a mix-and-match-book.

Quill says: This delightful book that portrays three delightful animal pals who learn to overcome their fears together is one you might want to add to your list!

Macaroni Kid - November 2010

We recently received another book to review from Arbordale Publishing titled The Giraffe Who Was Afraid of Heights by David A. Ufer and Illustrated by Kirsten Carlson.  This is a wonderful book for children ages 4-8 and is available in hardcover, paperback and ebooks.

This is a wonderful story for children especially for those who have fears they need to face. It is a magical story about three animal friends, each with their own fear. The young giraffe is afraid of heights and won't raise his head high enough to see the predators that may be lurking. His parents send him to the village doctor for help. On his journey he meets two friends that also have fears of their own. Together they face their fears in an exciting ending. This is a must read for all young children!
- Denise Bloomfield

Stories for Children Magazine - June 2008

Author David Ufer wrote a terrific story that will help children see how to overcome their fears through a unique storyline of a giraffe who's afraid of heights, a monkey who's afraid of climbing trees, and a hippo who's afraid to cross the river. You'll just have to read this delightful tale to see what fourth animal enters into the equation and what happens to all four of the animals. I give this book a high five all the way around – a unique, fun, extremely well-written storyline with a neat message that held my interest to the very end; fantastic, endearing illustrations by Kirsten Carlson; and the great learning experiences at the end of this book and also online thanks to the superior quality of Arbordale Publishing.  This is a must read for the little ones! The Creative Minds section at the end of the book has Animal Adaptations for each animal in the story, Fun Facts about each animal, A Matching Game, and Craft Activity: Mix-and-Match Activity Book. This entire section can also be downloaded at the Arbordale website.

In addition, readers can find cross-curricular “Teaching Activities,” an audio reading, child-friendly “Learning Links,” and comprehension and math quizzes for free at

Another big plus – Author David A. Ufer donates a portion of his royalties from the sale of this book to the World Wildlife Fund. How cool is that?

Ready Set Read Reviews - Dec 2008

We all have fears that don't always make sense. I myself am deathly afraid of bugs- spiders, grasshoppers, crickets, and even butterflies up until recently. Okay, I guess saying I'm deathly afraid of them might be over stating things a bit, but the point is I do NOT like them at ALL, and my pulse will sky rocket, I'll begin to hyperventilate, and I will honestly be scared to bits if any creepy crawlies get anywhere near me. Does it make sense why a giant like myself (only giant in comparison to the those nasty little buggers) would be afraid or even highly freaked out by an itty bitty bug? No, of course not. With the exception of a few which would be poisonous or deadly, there's really not much harm any little bug can cause me. That doesn't change the fact that I am afraid of them. It makes no sense really, yet that's the way life is sometimes. And that's what Ufer shows us through this delightful picture book.

Right off readers are introduced to a young giraffe, on the African savannah, who always keeps his neck bent low to the ground. He is afraid of heights. It doesn't matter that as a giraffe he should stand tall and proud, or that his graceful neck could help him reach the delicious leaves in the tree or see all that takes place around him. It doesn't matter that it is unnatural for a giraffe to be afraid of heights. (Again, that's the thing with fears, most are completely unrational, but that doesn't change the validity of them.) It is unsafe and also unbecoming for the giraffe to keep kis head down this way day in and day out, so his parents, wanting to help their son, send him off to see a doctor who they hope will help him overcome his fears. If all goes well he'll come home afterwords, and be able to stand strong and tall with the rest of his herd.

Along the way to the doctor the young giraffe happens upon a young monkey drawing pictures in the dirt. It turns out that the monkey too is supposed to go to the doctor; he is afraid of climbing the trees. Feeling an automatic kinship and both having the same destination the two take up their journey together. Yet it turns out, they are not the only two animals in need of a visit to the doctor.

As they make their way along the path to meet the doctor the pair stumble upon a sad hippo lying alongside the river. The hippo explains that he too needs to visit the doctor. For him it is not a fear of heights or climbing he needs to overcome, but rather a fear of water. The trouble is that in order to reach the doctor the hippo must first cross the river. A problem far more difficult to overcome than simply gaining the courage to go. If he could get that far he wouldn't need the doctor in the first place.

While taking a break on the riverbank to brainstorm, the trio find themselves confronted with a fear far greater than any that they've encountered before. Far worse than heights, climbing, or water what they now face is truly worthy of their fear. The time how come, and it's now or never. If each doesn't overcome his own personal demons now it may be too late.

I really loved this book, even more than I first expected I would. The illustrations were just adorable, and the message was a universally great one. Kids everywhere can read this book, no matter the stage of life they're in, and be reassured that it's totally normal and okay to be afraid of things. What they can also learn though is that while fears are normal, it's also totally possible to overcome them. Readers will be able to relate to the cast of characters, and will be able to see that even in the most dire of cases a little courage can go a long way because it's always hidden away inside us. It just sometimes take a little pressure to crack its shell away.

This was also a hit from a kiddo's perspective. My five year old really enjoyed reading it, and she thought the pictures were cool. We agreed our favorite images are the ones of the hippo and the giraffe brainstorming. Their expressions are exaggerated and so stinking cute.

Plus, as has been the case with all other Arbordale books we've had the pleasure of reviewing, this one had an excellent "For Creative Minds" section at the back. The "Animal Adaptions" portion shows how while some of the aspects of the story were obviously not true to life, there are ways in life in which animals adapt to survive. There were then fun facts for each of the featured animals, a fun foot and footprint matching game, and lastly there's even a short craft readers can do.

A definite good addition to one's collection if ever there was any.
OUR RATING: 5 hearts

The Bloomsbury Review - Jan/Feb 2007

Set on an African savannah, a young giraffe is sent by his parents to the village doctor because the giraffe is too scared to lift his head above his shoulders. He falls over every time he tries. Along the way, the giraffe meets a monkey who is afraid to climb trees and a hippopotamus who is afraid of water. In a moment reminiscent of Oz, the three funny friends decide to go together to see the village doctor. But how will they get across the river? When a crocodile threatens the group, the animals' courage solves their problems with, shall we say, a natural cure. 'I recommend this book,' said Samantha, 'because it is about saving self and others.'

A five-page section, 'For Creative Minds,' discusses what is fact and what is fiction about animals, and suggests games and craft activities. Vervet monkeys, such as the one in the story, have thumbs, we learned, and at the book's suggestion--tape your thumb inside your hand--Samantha and I practiced what it would be like to live without thumbs. We learned that without thumbs it is pretty hard to turn the pages of a book.
- Jacqueline St. Joan (Samantha and Elizabeth)

Science Books and Films - Nov/Dec 2006

Children can be fearful of many things, such as the dark, water or heights. In David A. Ufer’s new children’s book entitled The Giraffe Who Was Afraid of Heights, the author crafts a charming story about three animals what have fears and how they overcome those fears. The young giraffe of the title has a fear of heights, so his parents send him to the village doctor for help. On his way, he befriends a monkey that is afraid of climbing trees and a hippo that is afraid of water. A crocodile approaches the shore, threatening the monkey. The giraffe tells the monkey to jump on his head. The monkey jumps onto a tree, grabs some coconuts, and throws them at the crocodile. Just then, the hippo charges the crocodile, and they crash into the water and begin fighting. The crocodile finally decides that he has had enough and swims away. The three animals realize that they have all conquered their fears, and this story speaks to young children and how they, too, can overcome fears.

The text is easy to read and blends fiction and facts about animal behavior. The beautiful illustrations by Kirsten Carlson bring a human quality to the animals. The “Creative Minds” section contains fun facts and information about how each of the animals presented adapts to its environment. There is also a match-the-feet game and a mix-and-match activity book. This book will appeal to preschool and early elementary school children and could be used in the classroom or as a wonderful addition to libraries.
Carol April

Children’s Literature - 2006

This tale addresses fears young children may have by highlighting the same fears in three animals. The giraffe is scared of heights, the monkey is scared of climbing trees, and the hippo is afraid of water. So they head off together to go to the doctor. However, help is closer than the giraffe, monkey, and hippo believe. Collectively they learn to conquer their fears because they choose to help each other when the need arises. This scenario lets children learn about the idea of cooperation in an understandable way. The characters are delightfully presented, and the illustrations fit the tale well. Material at the end of the book includes creative and factual activities. Only a few lines on each page keep the page moving forward. The same activities are also available from Arbordale’s web site. The book meets national science and math curriculum standards in the categories of life science and numbers and operations.
- Nancy Garhan Attebury

Shelf Awareness - Fall, 2006

With soft illustrations and muted colors, this excellent picture books tells the story of animals that are afraid of the very things they should excel at.
- Jan Warner-Poole, Storyteller Books, Vancouver, Wash

Children's Book Watch - Sept, 2006

The Giraffe Who Was Afraid Of Heights is a picturebook story about animal friends who bond together to face their fears. A young giraffe is so afraid of heights he's terrified to lift his head above the ground, a monkey is afraid of climbing trees, and a hippo afraid of water can't cross the river. When a terrible crocodile threatens to eat them, they must work together, and find courage within themselves stronger than any doctor's treatment. Soft color illustrations bring this story of cooperation and self-improvement to life. A supplementary section presents true facts about the animals portrayed in the book. An excellent, character-building picturebook for young readers.

Heartland Reviews

This picture book takes three animals’ natural environments and turns them into fears. They meet one another on the way to the doctor where they hope to find cures for the giraffe’s fear of heights, the monkey’s fear of climbing trees, and a young hippo’s fear of water. An attacking crocodile causes their instincts to over ride their fears, saving them from attack and curing them of their phobias. We gave this book five hearts.
- Bob Spear

Armchair Interviews

Told from the perspective of a young giraffe with a fear of heights, this beautifully illustrated book teaches children that it's okay to be afraid.

Hoping to help their son conquer his fear of raising his head up into the air, a young giraffe's worried parents send him off to see the village doctor. As the giraffe sets out on his journey, he meets a monkey with a fear of climbing trees, and a hippo who is terrified of the water.

Together, the three young animals discuss their fears and decide to travel together across the African savannah. When they encounter danger in the form of a hungry crocodile that thinks the monkey would make a perfect lunch, the animals band together to protect their friend and in the process learn how to triumph over fear.

At the back of the book is a brilliant section entitled "For Creative Minds," which explores fun animal facts, discusses animal adaptations, and includes a craft activity with instructions for making a mix-and-match activity book.This section is what makes Arbordale books stand out from the crowd--combining a thoughtfully written story with educational "story-stretching" activities.

Armchair Interviews says: The Giraffe Who Was Afraid of Heights is a gentle reminder for young children that everyone has fears, and that there are ways of overcoming them.
- Jennifer Peacey

Wee One's Magazine - May/June

Giraffe is afraid of heights. His parents decide to send him to the doctors, because after all, giraffes are tall and should not be afraid of heights! On his way, he meets a monkey, who is afraid of climbing trees. They walk to the doctors and meet a hippo who is afraid of water. When danger strikes, all three animals forget their fears and help each other. They overcome their fears! The message of friendship flows through this book. Facing your fears head on isn't always a bad idea either!

Colorful illustrations bring the African savannah to life. A Creative Minds section at the end of the book engages young children in a game, activity and lots of fun facts! This is an all-inclusive book, perfect for young children.

Children's Book Reviews

Can you believe that a tall young giraffe is afraid of heights? Or, that a hippo is afraid of water? Or that a monkey is afraid of climbing trees? "That’s silly," you say. "Giraffe’s are supposed to reach their long necks up high for food. Monkeys climb trees ever so quickly for safety. And, hippos need water to play in and stay cool." Yet, in this adorable story these animals are afraid; and, when they meet each other on their way to the doctor for help, they find a way to help one another overcome their fears instead. A crocodile unwittingly helps.

Author David A. Ufer adeptly combines fiction and facts about animal behavior and habitats. He gently lets children know they can overcome their fears too, just like their animal friends. Kirsten Carlson’s lively illustrations bring this sweet story alive with both humor and compassion. The fun facts and activities at the back of the book will delight children and classroom teachers alike. Highly recommended for young preschool and early elementary children, classrooms, and libraries.
- Judith Nasse

Storyteller Books

The Giraffe Who was Afraid of Heights by David A. Ufer and illustrated by Kirsten Carlson is a softer and more gentle book. The illustrations are soft, muted colors and cute. The story is about animals that are afraid of the very things they should excel at. Again an excellent Creative Minds section.
- Jan Warner-Poole - August, 8 2006

The Giraffe Who was Afraid of Heights by David A. Ufer is an adorable little story about overcoming fear...The Giraffe Who was Afraid of Heights included scientific information about the animals in the story as well as a matching game and a simple activity book.
- Cindy Downes

Florida Media Quarterly - Fall, 2006

This is a delightful story of three young African savanna[h] friends who each have a unique phobia: the giraffe-a fear of heights, the monkey-a fear of climbing trees, and the hippo-a fear of water. When faced with an enemy, a crocodile, they forget their fear through courageous acts to save one another and find the fear gone.

The illustrations are humorous and unique, drawn from various perspectives. The first word on each page is written on a woodblock print. We see the same prints in a pattern at the end of the book in a section of true facts about four African animals. An added bonus is a matching game of animal feet and prints and a reproducible activity book.
- Ms. Frankie Morgan, Media Specialist at Crown Point Elementary School in Jacksonville, FL

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine - April 2007

The Giraffe Who Was Afraid of Heights tells of a young giraffe and its friends who overcome their fears. The young giraffe is afraid of heights and is fearful of raising his head high enough to look out over the vast savannah to see danger. His parents send him to the doctor. Along the way he meets a monkey who is afraid to climb trees and a hippo who is afraid of water! This is a fun story for young children aged 4-8. This lovely hardcover book comes with a dust jacket and has 32 pages.

The “For Creative Minds” section at the back of the book gives more facts on the animals in the story and even offers a craft to accompany this story. Of course, you can get even more information and fun facts by going to the Arbordale website at
- Lisa Barthuly