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Book by Andreae Giles
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Andreae's ode to a different drummer stumbles when it preaches about uncovering your own beat, but is ferned along by enough sweet verse and Parker-Rees' dazzling colors that it almost pulls its own weight. Gerald the giraffe's legs are too spindly for dancing, they are always buckling at the knees when it comes to the old soft-shoe. And while all the other creatures show some mean moves at the Jungle Dance ("The chimps all did a cha-cha/with a very Latin feel, /and eight baboons then teamed up/for a special Scottish reel"), poor Gerald is hooted off the dance floor before he even has a chance to crumple. As he shuffles homeward, and as he stopes to admire the moon, a cricket suggest that "just need a different song." So, to the sound of the wind in the trees, Gerald starts to move: a gentle swaying, some circling, ans some swishing. Suddenly he commences to belt out Olympic-quality gymnastic moves--"Then he did a backward somersault/and leapt up in the air"---that blows the other animals away. But probably not readers, even the youngest of whom will want to know just why Gerald's legs didn't buckle this time, special music or not. Bad enough that in a story about rhythm, the verse doesn't always scan--but mus Gerald srike the Travolta pose? Gerald doesn't find himself, he simply learns how to mimic.
---Kirkus Reviews, July 1st 2001
All the jungle's got the beat, but Gerald the giraffe has four left feet. Such is the dilemma in this British team's bouncy if didactic picture book about self-esteem. As a multitude of fleet-footed beasts eagerly "skip and prance" at the annual Jungle Dance in Africa, Gerald feels sad "because when it comes to dancing/ he was really very bad." Jeered by waltzing warthogs and cha-cha-ing chimps when he attempts to cut a rug, Gerald hangs his head and leaves the celebration behind. Luckily, a friendly cricket appears in the moonlight, chirping a morale-boosting song of self-confidence that soon sets Gerald in graceful motion. An
Gerald is a giraffe that can't dance. Try as he might, his long, spindly legs buckle whenever he starts to boogie. Every year he dreads going to the Great Jungle Dance--until one night he finds his own special music. Full-color illustrations.
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