Girl and Gorilla Out and About
Girl and Gorilla are best friends. Girl and Gorilla want to play at the park. But how will they get there? They can . . . Hopscotch! Or jump rope! Maybe they can just close their eyes and wish they were there! But when they open their eyes . . . they are not at the park. Will Girl and Gorilla ever get to play at the park?
Equal Parts Charming and Silly
It is clear that Girl and Gorilla Out and About is neither Walton’s nor Berger’s first rodeo. Each has extensive experience with picture books and in this one, they come together as an ideal pairing. Girl and Gorilla, who are best friends, decide to go to the park, but after crashing Girl’s bike, they struggle to figure out how they will get there. Gorilla suggests various ideas but none work. Eventually, they arrive at the park, but then they must figure out how to get home!
Both the text and the images contribute to the charming dynamic between the two friends. Spontaneous and creative Gorilla generates ideas in quick succession (“We can be kites and fly to the park”; “We could ride an elephant!”). Kind and practical Girl keeps them grounded (“We don’t have any string”; “We don’t have an elephant”). Berger’s expressive line drawings capture Gorilla’s impulsive gestures and the fondness Girl has for her friend.
I read the book with some young children and several questions came up in the reading: what happens to Girl’s broken bike? Considering there aren’t any other fantastical elements pictured, how do Girl and Gorilla actually become kites at the end? (Or at least, how do they get their faces printed on kites?) However, even though we could not answer these questions, Gorilla’s antics against what was for us a familiar backdrop of city streets and an urban park more than made up for any confusion we had.
This is a fun read for preschool or elementary aged children, and lends itself well to dramatization because of the amount of actions described in the story. It could also accompany a discussion about problem solving among friends. Fans of Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books or Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books will love Walton and Berger’s characters, and like me, will hope for more from Girl and Gorilla soon.
A fun story about problem-solving.