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Giraffes Can't Dance
Format: Board bookChange
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151 of 153 people found the following review helpful
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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72 of 74 people found the following review helpful
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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75 of 82 people found the following review helpful
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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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
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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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
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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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
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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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
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.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2003
This book is wonderful. It demonstrates, in its storyline and text, that there isn't always just one right way to do something. In other words, we may all have a unique approach. In this case Gerald thinks he's a bad dancer. His negative perception is reinforced by the other jungle animals whom Gerald thinks dances perfectly. The other animals tease Gerald. He doesn't seem to "fit in" with the crowd. Gerald's problem is, he is trying to dance their way. He needs to find his own style.
Good and bad examples abound in real life, and with our guidance they all provide rich learning experiences for our children. Given that, with your guidance, this book imparts to children a) There is often more than one way to do something, b) courage and perseverance pay off, and c) teasing hurts. Not bad for 29 pages of delightful rhyming text and colorful illustrations.
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