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Literature / The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me

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The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me is a short story by Roald Dahl.

The book follows a young boy named Billy, whose dreams of owning his own sweet-shop are fueled by a large abandoned building in town that used to be one. One day, he finds that the building is now occupied by a window-washing company run by a trio of animals: a Giraffe who possesses a highly extendable neck, a Pelican who carts water around in his beak, and a Monkey who scrubs the windows. The group gets their big break when the Duke of Hampshire hires them to clean the hundreds of windows on his estate, but the job proves to not be as simple as it initially seems.

Tropes present:

  • Continuity Nod: When Billy turns The Grubber into a sweet-shop, among the products on his shelves are products from Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory, including Rainbow Drops to spit in seven colors, Stickjaw to keep talkative parents quiet, and Mint Jujubes to give the boy next door green teeth for a month.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The Giraffe moves to England to start a business with the Monkey and the Pelican. Apparently she forgot that, while the Pelican eats fish and the Monkey eats nuts, she's a Geraneous Giraffe who can't eat anything except the pink and purple flowers of the tinkle-tinkle tree, which doesn't grow naturally in England. Luckily, she and her friends find permanent work on the plantation of a rich duke who owns the only grove of tinkle-tinkle trees in the entire country.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After helping catch a burglar in the act of stealing the Duchess' jewelry, the Giraffe, the Pelican and the Monkey are permanently hired to live at the Duke's palace and clean all his windows in exchange for food and lodging. They give their old place of work to Billy, who turns it into a fabulous sweet-shop like he always dreamed of.
  • Fantastic Diet Requirement: The Giraffe belongs to a fictional subspecies known as the Geraneous Giraffe, which feeds exclusively upon the flowers of the tinkle-tinkle tree. It is noted that while the Monkey and Pelican can go without their preferred foods of walnuts and salmon, the Giraffe is doing poorly because the trio hasn't found any tinkle-tinkle trees since they arrived in England.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: For a parting gift, the Monkey gets a bag of Devil's Drenchers, which allow the person who sucks them to breathe fire. For obvious reasons, they aren't sold to very young children.
  • Food End: The protagonists, now living on the Duke of Hampshire's estate, are allowed to fish for trout in his personal river, and their old headquarters is converted into a fantastic sweet shop which sells Wonka products.
  • Genial Giraffe: The titular Giraffe is one of the protagonists, who uses her stretchy neck to help the Monkey reach higher windows to clean.
  • Interspecies Friendship: A pelican, a giraffe and a monkey start a ladderless window-cleaning business together, while also making friends with a young boy.
  • Is It Something You Eat?: When the Pelican asks if there's any fish around, Billy says there's a fishmonger (a fish seller, for non-British readers) in a nearby village.
    Pelican: Now what on earth would that be? I have heard of a fish-pie and a fish-cake and a fish-finger, but I have never heard of a fish-monger. Are these mongers good to eat?
  • Mundane Utility: The Monkey, the Giraffe, and the Pelican move to Billy's hometown to set up a window-cleaning business. They don't need ladders or buckets, you see, because the Pelican's pouch can hold water and the Giraffe's neck is so long she can reach any window of any building, no matter how tall it is. It's also magically extendable!
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The Monkey is characterized similarly to Muggle-Wump the monkey, who is a central character in The Twits.
    • Among the products Billy's sweet-shop sells are Wonka confectionaries.
  • Pelican Package Pouch: The Pelican's pouch is big enough to fit a small person in it. He uses it to give Billy a ride up to the top floor of their workplace.
  • Reused Character Design: The Monkey looks pretty much exactly like Muggle-Wump from The Twits. Both books, as well as many others by Roald Dahl, were illustrated by Quentin Blake.
  • Seen It All: The chauffeur of the Duke of Hampshire doesn't even raise an eyebrow when he sees that the Ladderless Window-Cleaning Company is run by three talking animals. Billy's narration goes, "the chauffeurs of very rich men are never surprised by anything they see."
  • Super Spit: Among the many delicacies available at the sweet-shop are Willy Wonka Rainbow Drops — "suck them and you can spit in seven different colors".
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The Pelican loves salmon, the Monkey adores walnuts, and the Giraffe's favorite nosh is the pink and purple flowers of the tinkle-tinkle tree.
  • Too Desperate to Be Picky: What the Pelican laments when he and his coworkers have used all their money to buy a house they can operate their business out of.
    Has anyone seen a stale sardine
    or a bucket of rotten cod?
    I'd eat the lot upon the spot,
    I'm such a hungry bod!