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West with Giraffes

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 become Southern California's first giraffes. 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.

(Available in Hardback, Paperback, Audio, and Kindle E-Book)

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{from hardback back cover}





It started with a stack of yellowed newsclippings...
a very old map...

and a white board to fill up.

Over a year or so, it turned into this calculated mess.


Until, one day, I began to write––


Few true friends have I known and two were giraffes...