Many people feel at their most comfortable when they are doing what everyone else is doing. For them, being part of the crowd is the way to go. For them fitting in is very important. However, there are quite a few people in the world who are different; who march to a different beat, and who, try as they might, cannot be like everyone else. Today's picture book is about a giraffe who is unique, and who learns that he is wonderful just as he is.
Giraffes Can’t Dance
Illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
For ages 5 to 7
Scholastic, 2014, 978-0-545-80435-6
Like all giraffes, Gerald had a long neck and long, thin legs. He was very good at reaching tender leaves on high branches, but when it came to running, he was rather clumsy. For some reason his knees had an annoying habit of buckling.
Generally Gerald’s clumsiness was not too big an issue but when it was time for the Jungle Dance to take place, his awkwardness was a huge problem. All the animals participated in this annual event. The warthogs waltzed, the rhinos “rock n’ rolled,” the lions did the tango, the chimps did a cha-cha, and the baboons did a Scottish reel. When Gerald walked out onto the dance floor the animals all made fun of him. “Giraffe’s can dance, you silly fool” they said, and poor Gerald walked away feeling sadder than he had ever felt before.
In a clearing Gerald looked up at the moon, which is when a cricket spoke up. The kindly insect suggested that “sometimes when you’re different / you just need a different song.” The cricket told Gerald to hear the natural music around him, and then the cricket picked up its violin and began to play for Gerald, which is when something remarkable started to happen.
If we were all the same, the world would be a rather dull place. Thankfully, we all sense and experience things in our own unique ways, which means that we don’t all dance, speak, sing, or create art in the same way. In this picture book, children meet a giraffe who cannot dance, until he discovers that he needs to find his own music and rhythm. When he does, Gerald the clumsy giraffe becomes a very different animal indeed.
With a wonderful story filled with hope, and charming illustrations, this is a picture book that children and their grownups will grow to love.