Plano Reads: Join Second Tuesday Book Club on February 13 for ‘West with Giraffes’
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Plano Reads: Join Second Tuesday Book Club on February 13 for ‘West with Giraffes’

West with Giraffes, by Lynda Rutledge, is “an emotional, rousing novel inspired by the incredible true story of two giraffes who made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America.” 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.

We will meet in person from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 13, in the program room at Schimelpfenig Library, for our second meeting of 2024. Please email Alice McGoldrick at or Nicole Border at or you may call Schimelpfenig Library at 972-769-4200, if you have questions or comments. See you there!

West with Giraffes, by Lynda Rutledge

Available as Print

Woodrow (“Woody”) Wilson Nickel is 105 years old when he learns that his giraffes are going extinct. Recognizing that his time is limited, he starts documenting the memories of his journey with a pair of giraffes as they travel together from New York to their new home at the San Diego Zoo. Based on a true story and set during the Great Depression in 1938, Woody embarks on a twelve day journey from New York to California to deliver two young giraffes to the San Diego Zoo.

This grand adventure intertwines the stories of historical personalities and fictional characters, including the worlds first female zoo director, a grumpy old man, and a young female reporter with a secret.

In the midst of all the political and financial turmoil of the Great Depression, Americans seek good news, and they find it in the journey of the giraffes with the animals’ progress being followed in the newspapers.

“A delightful read.” The New York Times Book Review

West with Giraffes is truly a fun read…I [can’t] imagine a reading list that would not contain Lynda Rutledge’s astonishing novel.” Old Naples News

“Every year I find at least one book that soars above all the others. This year West With Giraffes is that book.” Florida Times Union

“A flawless novel.” Austin American-Statesman

“A perfect balance between history and fiction.” POPSUGAR

“[A] larger-than-life story about the power of both animal magnetism and human connection…witty, charming, and heartwarming.” Booklist

Before becoming a novelist, Lynda Rutledge was a professional writer for over 25 years, working as a copywriter, restaurant and film reviewer, book collaborator, travel writer, and freelance journalist. She herself has had some majestic adventures around the world, from petting baby rhinos and snorkeling with endangered turtles, to hang-gliding off a small Swiss mountain.

She holds an MFA in creative writing, a BA and MA in American literature, and has won awards and residencies from the Illinois Arts Council, Writers League of Texas, Ragdale Foundation, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and Sewanee Writers Conference.

More recently, her bestselling novel, West with Giraffes, was named the Texas Center for the Book’s (a Library of Congress-affiliate) 2023 Great Read and was a Goodreads Choice awards nominee for Best Historical Fiction in 2021. To find more information about her, visit her website.

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