Poor Gerald the giraffe has a bad case of the wish-I-coulds. He's really good at doing the things that giraffes are supposed to do, but what he really wants to do is get down and boogie at the annual Jungle Dance.
He watches all the other animals waltz, rock 'n' roll, tango and cha-cha, but when Gerald walks onto the dance floor, the other animals sneer and jeer and he leaves the dance feeling utterly alone.
Luckily, a clever cricket gives him some good advice and Gerald discovers that "We can all dance...when we find music that we love."
Giraffe's Can't Dance, written by Giles Andreae is delightful. The rhyming text draws in young readers and immediately creates empathy for Gerald. My 1st and 2nd graders couldn't help themselves as Gerald was bullied out of the dance, I heard multiple whispers, "That's so sad," "Why are they doing that?" "That's mean." "Poor Gerald." But when Gerald starts grooving to the music of the violin-playing cricket, they were giddy - giggling, gasping, and cheering for his new moves.
Guy Parker-Rees' bright illustrations were created with watercolor, pen and ink. There are a couple of pages I particularly like - the scene by the bonfire at the dance, all the animals bathed in firelight takes me back to all our Dillon Beach campouts, and the scene with Gerald closing his eyes, listening to the world around him. I can just imagine the effort it took to shut out the voices in his head, the distant sounds of the Jungle Dance, and listen for his own kind of music.
Enjoy this little gem with your little ones!