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GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE by Giles Andreae

GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE

By Giles Andreae (Author) , Guy Parker-Rees (Illustrator)

Age Range: 3 - 5

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-28719-7
Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

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)