Giraffes Can't Dance

( 94 )

Overview

Gerald the giraffe longs to dance, but his legs are too skinny and his neck is too long. His knees buckle whenever he tries to twirl. At the Jungle Dance, the warthogs waltz, the chimps cha-cha, and the lions tango. "Giraffes can't dance," they all jeer when it's Gerald's turn to prance. But there is one little creature who believes in Gerald. "Everything makes music," the cricket explains, "if you really want it to." So Gerald starts swaying to his own sweet tune.

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Overview

Gerald the giraffe longs to dance, but his legs are too skinny and his neck is too long. His knees buckle whenever he tries to twirl. At the Jungle Dance, the warthogs waltz, the chimps cha-cha, and the lions tango. "Giraffes can't dance," they all jeer when it's Gerald's turn to prance. But there is one little creature who believes in Gerald. "Everything makes music," the cricket explains, "if you really want it to." So Gerald starts swaying to his own sweet tune.

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

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Gerald the Giraffe is a charming happy gent who has one aspiration -- to dance. The extra-tall giraffe is a bit wobbly in the knees, and his every attempt to boogie results with Gerald on the ground. It's time for the annual Jungle Dance, where all the creatures of the kingdom shake their respective tails. The lions dance the tango, and the chimps cha-cha-cha. As Gerald nears the dance circle, the animals snicker, "Hey, look at clumsy Gerald. Giraffes can't dance, you silly fool!" Sad and embarrassed, he retreats to his home. On the way, he bumps into a compassionate cricket who suggests that "Sometimes when you're different you just need a different song." So Gerald takes a new approach to dancing, as he listens to the wind in the trees and the swaying grass. And soon, with all the grace of a swan and the fancy moves of a pro, he dances for his jungle friends, who watch in astonishment.

This amazing tale offers keen advice and adorable illustrations under the guise of a simple picture book. Illustrator Guy Parker-Rees perfectly portrays Gerald's frustration and humiliation over his supposed inability to dance. And the scenes in which the other denizens of the forest cut a rug will have kids rolling in the aisle -- it's not every day that you see two warthogs waltzing! Author Giles Andrews mixes rhyming text and simple language to create a strong message about individuality and the power of dancing to the tune of a different drummer, a lesson that makes this glorious picture book perfect for children and adults.

Publishers Weekly
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. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Every animal at the African Jungle Dance sneers at poor Gerald the giraffe when it is his turn to perform. The chimps did a brilliant cha-cha, the warthogs waltzed beautifully, and the rhinos rocked and rolled, but clumsy Gerald's knees buckle and his legs twist so he flees the party in shame. While admiring the beautiful moon, a friendly cricket offers hope to the despondent giraffe. "Listen to the swaying grass/ and listen to the trees./ To me the sweetest music/ is those branches in the breeze." While the cricket fiddles, Gerald learns to listen to the music that surrounds him. With bouncy breezy rhymes and vivid watercolor, pen and ink illustrations, young children are sure to be inspired by this heart-warming tale. A class of first graders loved hearing the story and viewing the colorful pictures. A lively discussion focused on values, dreaming and attaining success. 2001, Orchard Books, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Laura Hummel AGES: 4 5 6 7 8
School Library Journal
PreS-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.
Kirkus Reviews
Andreae's ode to a different drummer stumbles when it preaches about uncovering your own beat, but is ferried along by enough sweet verse and Parker-Rees's dazzling colors that it almost pulls its own weight. Gerald the giraffe's legs are too spindly for dancing; they are always buckling at the knees when it comes to the old soft-shoe. And while all the other creatures show some mean moves at the Jungle Dance ("The chimps all did a cha-cha / with a very Latin feel, / and eight baboons then teamed up / for a special Scottish reel"), poor Gerald is hooted off the dance floor before he even has a chance to crumple. As he shuffles homeward, and as he stops to admire the moon, a cricket suggests that "you just need a different song." So, to the sound of the wind in the trees, Gerald starts to move: a gentle swaying, some circling, and some swishing. Suddenly he commences to belt out Olympic-quality gymnastic moves-"Then he did a backward somersault / and leapt up in the air"-that blows the other animals away. But probably not readers, even the youngest of whom will want to know just why Gerald's legs didn't buckle this time, special music or not. Bad enough that in a story about rhythm, the verse doesn't always scan-but must Gerald strike the Travolta pose? Gerald doesn't find himself; he simply learns how to mimic. (Picture book. 3-5)
From the Publisher

"Andreae's rhyming text has a jaunty rhythm that's likely to spark interest in the read-aloud crowd." -Publishers Weekly
Children's Literature - Sandra Kitain
A perfect marriage of rhyming text and whimsical illustrations, this board book invites young children to imagine their favorite zoo animal learning to dance. Adults reading this book to children will also enjoy the animals' antics as the lions tango and the rhinos rock and roll. The alliteration as well as the rhymes all makes a delightful volume to be enjoyed again and again. One imagines listening to music along with the story time opportunities. The anthropomorphic animals are clever and witty. The underlying message to children is that one should always try to do things and never be discouraged. Since music is the universal language, this could be read in tot music classes as well as at the library story hour. The text is imaginative and the illustrations are sure to please. Reviewer: Sandra Kitain
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439287197
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2001
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 14,564
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.78 (w) x 11.92 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Giles Andreae is the award-winning author of numerous children's books, including K IS FOR KISSING A COOL KANGAROO and THE CHIMPANZEES OF HAPPYTOWN. Giles lives in London with his wife and three children.

Guy Parker-Rees has illustrated many bestselling Orchard books, including K IS FOR KISSING A COOL KANGAROO and THE CHIMPANZEES OF HAPPYTOWN by Giles Andreae; DOWN BY THE COOL OF THE POOL, DINOSAURUMPUS!, and ALL AFLOAT ON NOAH'S BOAT by Tony Mitton; QUIET! by Paul Bright; and THE HIPPO-NOT-AMUS by Tony and Jan Payne. He lives in Brighton, England.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 94 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(63)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 94 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The brightly colored, action-filled illustrations skillfully enhance this first-rate story.

    Gerald's long neck, thin legs, and bandy knees are good for some things, like munching on trees. But they also make him a bit clumsy. When it is time for the annual jungle dance Gerald courageously steps out to dance. The other animals laugh and taunt him "Giraffes can't dance . . ." This leaves Gerald feeling sad, useless, and alone until he finds his own tune.

    When visiting my long-distance granddaughter, I found "Giraffes Can't Dance" on her bookshelf. I was originally attracted to this book because I am a nature lover. Glancing through its pages, the following passage from the book captured me:

    "Listen to the swaying grass and listen to the trees, to me the sweetest music is those branches in the breeze. So imagine that that lovely moon is playing just for you, everything makes music if you really want it to."

    But there is so much more to this book. The brightly colored, action-filled illustrations skillfully enhance this first-rate story. The story touches on being teased, feeling embarrassed, and the fall and rise of self-esteem. This book is about being different, overcoming challenge, and finding something that you love. As a life coach, I appreciate the message of finding your own tune and then dancing to it. As a writer, I like the way the story actively moves forward with rhythmic rhyme that is perfect for the dancing theme. The story evokes empathy when Gerald is feeling sad and defeated. Later, the story stirs up joy and excitement when, without even trying, Gerald begins to dance.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Even A Giraffe Can Dance

    A great book about being yourself. Everyone can dance, just in there own way - even a giraffe! Cute story and artwork.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2010

    Never give up!

    This has become a favorite of my four year old grandson. Every child has moments of being afraid to take a risk and is needing encouragement. The story demonstrates both disappointment when the other animals laugh because the giraffe cannot dance to courage when a suggestion and encouragement are made and it works! All of sudden the giraffe is the center of attention in a positive way. When I finished reading the story to my grandson, his response was Read is again, Gramma.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 1, 2010

    Great book with a great lesson!

    This is one of my favorite children's books. My daughter is 20 months old and she loves the colorful illustrations and pointing out all the animals. For me, I love that it has a great lesson about everyone being unique.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2010

    Great Children's Book!

    Our family loves this book. The rhyming keeps our children engaged and the message of the book is wonderful!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2010

    Cute book!

    This is a little long for our 18 mo old but he loves the pictures. This is a great addition to his enlarging library.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    A Very Happy Ending

    This book has wonderful illustrations and a classroom of 5 year olds smiled at the giraffe's antics. It holds a good lesson that children can relate to.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2010

    Great Book

    I read this every night to my 11 month old and 2 year old. My two year old loves to find where the cricket is hiding on each page. Bright colors, great story. Perfect book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Favorite for Home and School

    I am a Pre-K teacher and every year my students love this story!! I must have read it dozens of times and I still get choked up. The lessons of friendship and self image are powerful for adults and children alike. When my nephew was born, it was the first book I purchased for his library and it has become a favorite at his house as well.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Love this book!

    This is a great book. The story,illustration and everything.
    A great buy!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    Giraffes Can't Dance

    Read this to a few of the special needs children I work with, and they loved it! The artwork was terrific, the animals were ANIMATED and they took the message of the book well. A great read, with lots of repeats requested.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    We have purchased TWO back-ups

    My daughter has literally loved this book to pieces. It has been taped up so many times that I think the book has more tape than paper right now. She brings it to bed with her every night and I hear her "reading" to herself after she is tucked in. This is the only book she has memorized and is constantly asking for it. I have read it so many times and still love it. This book is a must read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2008

    Fantastic Book

    We initially checked this book out of the library and my son loved it so much -- we had to buy it too. My son is very tall for his age so he is always falling down and is a little awkward-- so I think he really identified with Gerald. At any rate, it's a great book for any child-- whether they are insecure or not! It has a great message and flows beautifully when read. Hint:-- my son particularly likes it when we use a funny voice for the cricket----

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2008

    THE BEST CHILDREN'S BOOK EVER!

    this amazing book is my faverite kid's book, and i still read it. Gerald the Giraffe has a hard time a first, not being able to dance... BUT HE IS SUPER DOOPER SPEAICEL!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2008

    Love it Love it Love it

    I don't know who loves this book more....my son or me? The story is beautifully written and the illustrations are gorgeous. I have given it to all my friends with little ones. Can't recommend this book enough.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2007

    A perfect message in a beautiful book

    I always have a copy of this book on hand to give as a gift. It is my favorite children's book -- for its rhythm, message, and illustrations. The first time I read it, it brought tears to my eyes. Most people I give it to claim that it quickly becomes a family favorite and they start to buy it for other people!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2006

    My Favorite Childrens Book

    My son got this for a gift when he was just a baby he is almost 3 now and it is his favorite and mine! We bought a copy for each of his playgroup friends for their birthdays!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2005

    Fantastic!!

    I read this years ago when I nannied and just knew it was a book I had to have even though I didn't have kids at the time. I have been reading this to my almost 2 yr old daughter and she loves it as much as me. Teaches children, even adults, that it is ok to be different and to embrace the differences in others as well as ourselves. I have given many copies as gifts.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2003

    One of the BEST children's book out there!

    In the summer I work with children that have many different types of mental, emotional, physical, etc disorders and this book has been able to help them all. Certain children have even gone so far as to read the story everyday until they had it memorized! This book also was able to reach out and touch my preschoolers over the past year. It is a wonderful story with an even more amazing message. Perfect addition to any library.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2003

    Great for a Special Needs Child.

    Precious story that flows with rhyme. The giraffe can't dance only because he needs a different song. I love this book. Inspiring for any child that is just not like all the rest.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 94 Customer Reviews

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