West with Giraffes (Paperback)
"Two giraffes are the stars of this true life adventure. Rutledge has written a fictional story in order to enchant us with the events that occurred in 1938 as a hurricane swept up the Northeast coast. The 12 foot giraffes rode out the storm in crates on the deck of the ship bringing them to the NY harbor. When the ship docked at the damaged harbor, a zoo keeper from the San Diego is ready to pick up the giraffes to transport them by means of a modified pick-up truck across the country to the San Diego zoo. The year is 1938. Hitler has begun his march through Europe; the Depression still hangs on, and Bell Benchley is the first female zoo director. The giraffes’ cross-country trip is covered by papers everywhere; people stand on the road to watch them go by (and remember there are no major highways so many little towns are on their route). While this is a fictionalized story, the key components are true and verification be found in old newspaper clippings and on line resources. It is very interesting to see some of the pictures. Good book and very applicable to our time as we realize that the future of giraffes is in jeopardy."— From Susan's Staff Picks
An emotional, rousing novel inspired by the incredible true story of two giraffes who made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America.
"Few true friends have I known and two were giraffes..."
Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, feels his life ebbing away. But when he learns giraffes are going extinct, he finds himself recalling the unforgettable experience he cannot take to his grave.
It's 1938. The Great Depression lingers. Hitler is threatening Europe, and world-weary Americans long for wonder. They find it in two giraffes who miraculously survive a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic. What follows is a twelve-day road trip in a custom truck to deliver Southern California's first giraffes to the San Diego Zoo. Behind the wheel is the young Dust Bowl rowdy Woodrow. Inspired by true events, the tale weaves real-life figures with fictional ones, including the world's first female zoo director, a crusty old man with a past, a young female photographer with a secret, and assorted reprobates as spotty as the giraffes.
Part adventure, part historical saga, and part coming-of-age love story, West with Giraffes explores what it means to be changed by the grace of animals, the kindness of strangers, the passing of time, and a story told before it's too late.