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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.
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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!
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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!!
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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.
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on October 29, 2015
There's a reason this book is a top seller, it's adorable! I first read this book in a toddler book club when I was a nanny, I now read this book to my own children. I have read this book probably a hundred + times (not an exaggeration) and I still love it. I haven't found a child who didn't like this book, it's so cute. Great story, nice colorful illustrations. I highly recommend this book!
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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 14, 2014
I wanted to like this book as I had seen it at the bookstore several times, but I just don't. Great illustrations. The story starts out good. It would have been much better if the ending was different. The story is about a giraffe who can't dance because he's tall and lanky and awkward and all the other jungle animals laugh at him and call him weird. Instead of teaching kids sometimes we can be different from others and they might laugh at us but it's okay, the giraffe somehow magically learns how to dance better than all the other animals. It's unrealistic and doesn't teach a good lesson to children about it being okay to not fit in with the crowd sometimes. Very disappointed with the moral of the story.
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on December 1, 2005
I got this for my 6 year old nephew who was adopted from Africa. He is learning English and this is a really sweet story that happens to resonate with him particularly. He is often shy and tentative in his almost all white school and with shaky English skills. This story about a clumsy Giraffe that finds his own music to dance to is so inspiring and hopeful. My feminist sister says it would be good for any kid that feels a little bit different, and for 'normal' kids to look for 'different' kids' special talents. I like the animation which is really good, especially for a children's product. It was a crowd pleasure for everyone and it's broken into managable segments so you can play for as little as 10 minutes or as much as 2 hours. There is a fun play along dance game that brought all of us to our feet after Thanksgiving dinner. We danced for over half an hour kids and adults!
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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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