Age Range: 3 to 6
The Story: Gerald the giraffe has thin legs and crooked knees. At the Annual Jungle Dance he watches the other animals dancing but when he tries to dance they laugh at him. Gerald leaves the dance and meets a friendly cricket who advises him to listen to the sounds of nature and follow his own rhythm. The cricket starts playing his violin and Gerald starts to dance like he has never danced before. The other animals are amazed and ask Gerald how he learnt to dance like that. He tells them that everyone can dance when they find music that they love.
Giraffes Can’t Dance encompasses the themes of friendship and the fact that it’s great to be different and dance to our own tune. The cricket is the only creature who helps Gerald when he is struggling and down, the animals who have teased him when he is clumsy are quick to ask for advice when his dancing improves. They are fickle and unhelpful, it is the little cricket who believes in Gerald and encourages him to embrace his uniqueness.
Guy Parker-Rees’ illustrations are full of humour, especially the picture of the animals dancing. We like the waltzing warthogs and the rock and rolling rhinos best. The wide range of expressions on Gerald’s face effectively convey his emotions and his joy when he realises that he can dance is exuberant. The rhyming text is easy to read and now I know the CD I often find myself reading with a calypso rhythm!
Giraffes Can’t Dance is a great story to use in the classroom to stimulate discussion on the themes of friendship and individuality. I have also used the story several times to stimulate arts sessions. Each child drew around a foot to make Gerald’s head and then stuck it on top of a long neck. We added ears, horns and eyes and then fingerprinted the spots. Lastly we stuck on small pieces of wool for the giraffe’s mane.
Our book came with a CD and we love the calypso jungle rhythm that accompanies the audio reading. The music is very catchy, it’s great music to dance to. I would definitely recommend buying the book with the CD.
Author: Giles Andreae / Illustrator: Guy Parker-Rees