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Format: Board bookChange
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on December 29, 2003
Gerald the Giraffe is one clumsy animal. He's good at standing still and munching shoots off trees but when he wants to join the other animals at the Jungle Dance, they only laugh at him. Not for long, though. His friend the cricket knows how to play the music that inspires Gerald to dance like John Travolta in his best days. Gerald is transformed because "we all can dance ... when we find music that we love."
"Giraffes Can't Dance" is my personal favorite among Max's books. The story is familiar to many kids who go to kindergarten and learn that their peers can be picky about who belongs to the pack and who does not. In the book, the exuberant illustrations of Guy Parker-Rees take the sting out of Gerald's initial rejection by the other animals. Watching the Rhinos rock'n'roll and the lions "dance a tango that was elegant and bold," balances Gerald's sadness. The emphasis of the story is on Gerald's joyful transformation, anyway. Just read Gerald's jubilant "I am dancing! Yes, I'm dancing! I AM DANCING!" with enough liveliness and watch the kids identify with a flying giraffe. After all, the lesson is that you can excel and enjoy who you are even if, at first, the world does not play your tune. With a little help from his friends, Gerald finds out that "sometimes when you're different you just need a different song."
Let me add one short paragraph on Gerald's helpful friends, the cricket and the three small bugs that are hiding on every page. These four little fellows are an ingenious device to soften the impact of the emotional story. Kids are in love with details; once they know what to look for, they will tirelessly search for the bugs and the cricket, and point them out to you. Hint: play dumb and they will have a party.
11 comment186 of 191 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 5, 2004
This is the most precious story about how being different is okay and how you can still be good at something even though you have to go about it a little "differently." I bought this for my 4 yr old son with cerebral palsy who can't walk and he absolutely adores it! "We can all dance if we find the right music." Gerald, who initially was ridiculed by the other animals for being a terrible dancer, gets a little help from a friend in finding the "right music." His dancing is admired by the other animals in the end. My husband demonstrates the different dances with my son as he reads the book to him which my son thoroughly enjoys! We have a very extensive book collection for my son, but this would have to be one of his (and my) all-time favorites. I have also bought several copies of this book for my son's school. The illustrations are the best that I've ever seen in a children's book. Can't recommend this highly enough!
0Comment101 of 103 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 27, 2003
I bought this book for my 2 yr old and he loved the story from the beginning. After the first read we realized that the cricket was on every page of the book. Boy did we have fun looking for it on the second time around. After ten different readings we finally found all the crickets. the story is a good one when you watch your toddler show empathy for Gerald. I highly recommend this book!!
22 comments87 of 95 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 15, 2002
Although written for children ages 3 to 6, as a middle school librarian, I know my students can also identify with Gerald the Giraffe's insecurities. They know too well how fickle their "friends" can be if they fail to fit in. Learning that everyone can dance when they find the music they love is a lesson that they will revisit many times during their lives...but probably never so simply or beautifully as with Gerald the Giraffe.
0Comment42 of 44 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 24, 2003
Cute book about dancing - not an easy topic to find for toddlers who love dancing. Good read-aloud level for 2 year old, nice pictures, easy to follow story and a great John Travolta/Saturday Night Fever pose by Gerald at the end. Includes peer group of animals who laugh at the giraffe for not being able to dance, which is a social concept that I had reservations about exposing to our 2 year old but may be okay for an older preschooler. So, I read it with reservations at first, but it seems to be okay for him. However, he's not enjoying the book as much as I am and hasn't been interested in hearing it much beyond the first couple of times.
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on January 5, 2006
I quite liked this book, my children LOVE it. The illustrations are amazing, they are nicely drawn, and the colour! It is extraodinarily rich and vibrant. I don't know if it simply that it suits the setting of this book which is Africa or if this is usual for this illustrator. Whatever the reason I will definitley be finding more of these books for my kids. My two girls spend ages looking at the pictures picking out the small details.

The story is nice. It is about Gerald the Giraffe who attends the annual dance but it laughed at by the other animals for being so clumsy. Gerald goes away humiliated, but he meets a cricket who teaches him to listen for his own special music, and that is the music he should dance to. Gerald listens and hears it, and then he starts to dance himself and it is wonderful, all the other animls come to watch and applaud.

So it has a nice positive message at the end of it too.
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on August 26, 2001
Gerald the giraffe simply wants to fit in with the other animals, but he feels as if he is inadequate because he can't dance like his friends. A wise friend tells him that he must listen for the right music. Gerald realizes that he, too, has the ability to dance. As a kindergarten and Reading Recovery teacher, I look for books that will encourage validation of the child who feels different. I was excited to discover GIRAFFE'S CAN'T DANCE. It was perfect for my teacher staff development introduction.
0Comment41 of 48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 13, 2013
I'm trying to figure out how to explain that this book was just a little depressing. So...despite a "happy ending" (turns out giraffes CAN dance, to their own tune), I really didn't like reading to my little one about the other animals cruelly taunting the giraffe who attempts to dance at the annual "Jungle Dance." There are better ways to encourage kids about their abilities (or lack thereof) without throwing in "you fool." This story doesn't get much play time in our nursery, and when it does get read, I edit liberally. I gave it two stars for the potential of a cute story, and cute artwork, but "Giraffes Can't Dance" is definitely not my favorite.
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on November 8, 2003
This is a wonderful book about a Gerald, a giraffe who attempts to dance at the yearly jungle dance, but shies away from the stage when other animals laugh at him. This book express beautifully how it feels to be different - 'Gerald had never felt so sad and so alone' - and ends on a very positive note: 'Sometimes when you're different, you just need a different song' and 'we all can dance, when we find music that we love.' It was a perfect book to help my child with his feelings towards his weakness.
0Comment13 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 27, 2015
This book has an awful message; I wish I'd read some of the 1 star reviews before buying this for my son. The premise that Gerald believes in himself and suddenly becomes an amazing dancer, and only because he's become "cool" the bullies love him and Gerald gets new friends, is the wrong message to send. Nowhere does the book teach that 1) the bullies were wrong for tormenting Gerald, 2) that everyone deserves kindness and compassion even if they are different, 3) that you shouldn't beat up on and have to change yourself to please others who don't deserve your friendship anyway, and 4) that trying to learn something new and/or something you are not intrinsically good at is admirable and definitely not something to be made fun of.
33 comments18 of 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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