Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book #151: Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, Illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees

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Gerald is a tall giraffe who is good at standing still and eating leaves off trees, but no matter how hard he tries, Gerald can’t dance. So Gerald is naturally very nervous when he goes to the annual Jungle Dance. The other animals dance up a storm; the warthogs waltz, the lions tango, and the baboons’ feet fly in a Scottish reel. But the other animals begin to laugh before Gerald even starts to dance. Mortified, Gerald begins to walk home, but on the way he meets a wise cricket who tells him to listen to the sounds of the natural world. Gerald listens and before he knows it he’s twirling and somersaulting. He’s dancing! As Gerald tells the other animals, “We all can dance when we find music that we love.”  

Andreae’s gently rhyming text evokes compassion and empathy for poor clumsy Gerald. There’s an emphasis on the way the events and behaviors of others effect Gerald’s emotions. The text is also full of movement, appropriate in a book about dancing. The brightly saturated illustrations have a cartoonish feel creating a world in which dancing lions and rhinos are a common happening.

Use this book as part of a giraffe themed storytime and pair it with Dot Brown’s poem, The Giraffe, or the rhyme, Five Tall Giraffes. This is also a wonderful time to teach the kids the ASL sign for giraffe. Before you read the book, ask kids what they know about Giraffes. Where do they live? What do they eat? Follow up by making giraffe paper bag puppets.

You could also incorporate this book into a storytime about dancing. Try out the rhyme, Let’s Dance and Twirl Together. And you can’t go wrong with the Hokey Pokey. After you read the book, turn on some music and invite the kids to dance. This is the perfect time to give out scarves if you happen to have them on hand.


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