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Raf    by Anke de Vries & Charlotte Dematons order for
by Anke de Vries
Order:  USA  Can
Boyds Mills Press, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Raf, a floppy, stuffed giraffe toy, and Ben are inseparable until one day Raf vanishes. Ben looks everywhere but can't find his favorite toy. Disconsolate, the little boy doesn't want to go outdoors or play with his other toys. Then one day a strange postcard is dropped into the family's mailbox.

'Dear Ben, I've been found! I am traveling through Africa. Right now, I am in the desert. It is really hot. The sun burns my head. I am as brown as chocolate. Raf'

Five other postcards follow chronicling Raf's adventures as he encounters flamingos, elephants, monkeys, and even some real giraffes. The final postcard reads, 'Hooray, hooray, hooray! We are coming back. I have changed a bit. You may not recognize me. I can't wait to see you again.'

Ben waits and waits, but Raf doesn't show up. Then, on the boy's birthday, the doorbell rings. Who could it be? Yup, it is Ben's favorite toy back from his strange, far-flung adventure!

This sparse story leaves plenty of questions that the reader will have to try to figure out the answers to, but it could be a lot of fun trying to solve the mystery of who took Raf on this trip and why.

Ask your child why he or she thinks this happened or who spirited Raf off to Africa. Do misplaced or lost toys have secret lives? Perhaps! Is this all make-believe? Maybe! Does the weather offer a clue to why Raf disappeared? It might!

Let your imagination run wild as you puzzle out the mystery of the little giraffe's wonderful adventure that, fortunately, ends on a happy note with his return to his good friend Ben.

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