Giraffes Can’t Dance By Giles Andreae


Gerald the giraffe doesn’t really have delusions of grandeur. He just wants to dance. But his knees are crooked and his legs are thin, and all the other animals mock him when he approaches the dance floor at the annual Jungle Dance. “Hey, look at clumsy Gerald,” they sneer. “Oh, Gerald, you’re so weird.” Poor Gerald slinks away as the chimps cha-cha, rhinos rock ‘n’ roll, and warthogs waltz. But an encouraging word from an unlikely source shows this glum giraffe that those who are different “just need a different song,” and soon he is prancing and sashaying and boogying to moon music (with a cricket accompanist). In the vein of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Gerald’s fickle “friends” quickly decide he’s worthy of their attention again.

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With this rhyming, poignant (in a cartoonish way) tale, Giles Andreae, author of Rumble in the Jungle, and numerous other picture books, shows insecure young readers that everyone can be wonderful, even those that march to the beat of a different cricket. The rhymes are somewhat awkward, but the bold, bright watercolors by Guy Parker-Rees will invite readers to kick up their heels and find their own internal harmony. (Ages 3 to 6) –Emilie Coulter
All the jungle’s got the beat, but Gerald the giraffe has four left feet. Such is the dilemma in this British team’s bouncy if didactic picture book about self-esteem. As a multitude of fleet-footed beasts eagerly “skip and prance” at the annual Jungle Dance in Africa, Gerald feels sad “because when it comes to dancing/ he was really very bad.” Jeered by waltzing warthogs and cha-cha-ing chimps when he attempts to cut a rug, Gerald hangs his head and leaves the celebration behind. Luckily, a friendly cricket appears in the moonlight, chirping a morale-boosting song of self-confidence that soon sets Gerald in graceful motion. Andreae’s rhyming text has a jaunty rhythm that’s likely to spark interest in the read-aloud crowd, in spite of a heavy-handed message. Parker-Rees’s kicky depictions of slightly anthropomorphic animals boogying on the dance floor are the highlight here. His watercolor and pen-and-ink artwork exudes a fun, party vibe. Ages 3-6.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
reS-K-A clumsy giraffe is instantly transformed into an exceptional dancer when he finds music that he loves. Gerald has tall, thin legs, which are good for standing still, but when he tries to run, his crooked knees buckle. At the annual Jungle Dance, he is laughed off the floor. A cricket tells him that “-sometimes when you’re different you just need a different song.” This advice enables the lonely creature to dance, much to the amazement of the other animals. The rhythmic text follows a pattern of four lines per stanza. Some rhyme and others do not. Some flow smoothly; others are forced. One line states that, “He threw his arms out sideways-.” Huh! Giraffes don’t have arms. Full-page color illustrations done in pen and ink and watercolor are bold and warm. Characters are whimsical and expressive, but they don’t make up for the drastic and unbelievable turnaround that takes place upon hearing the cricket play his violin. For stories about individuality, stick with Helen Lester’s Tacky the Penguin (1988) and Three Cheers for Tacky (1994, both Houghton) or Robert Kraus’s Leo the Late Bloomer (HarperCollins, 1971) and Owliver (Prentice-Hall, 1974; o.p.).

Kathleen Simonetta, Indian Trails Public Library District, Wheeling, IL

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

 

Giraffes Can’t Dance Book

The bestselling Giraffes Can’t Dance is now a board book!

Giraffes Can’t Dance is a touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. With crooked knees and thin legs, it’s harder for a giraffe than you would think. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend.

With light-footed rhymes and high-stepping illustrations, this tale is gentle inspiration for every child with dreams of greatness.