Giraffes can't dance by Giles Andreae

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Illus. by Guy Parker-Rees. 20th anniversary edition. Hachette, 2019. ISBN: 9781408354414.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: Dancing, Giraffes, Verse story. The fact that Giraffes can't dance has been in print for 20 years speaks of the timelessness and appeal of the story, beautifully written in verse by Andreae, and illustrated with appealing pictures of jungle animals by Parker-Rees. A quote on the back cover from the Daily Mail 'All toddlers should grow up reading this', says it all - it is a classic story that reads aloud beautifully and sends an important message about finding your own way of doing things.
Gerard the giraffe really wants to dance, but his body with its long neck and skinny legs, makes it hard to find his rhythm and the other jungle animals laugh at his attempts. Despondent, he leaves the gathering but a wise cricket tells him
" . . .sometimes when you're different
You just need a different song.'
And when Gerard finds that song, he is able to do the most beautiful dance in his own way. Children will love the warthogs' waltz, the chimps' cha-cha, and the lions' tango, but most of all they will love Gerard's dance, and his final words,
'We can all dance, he said,
When we find music that we love.'
The rhythm of the story will captivate young listeners as will the colourful illustrations, especially of Gerald as he boogies along and does a backwards somersault against the background of a full moon. Children who are old enough to read independently will be reassured that everyone can find music of their own to dance to.
This is a lovely, feel good book, perfect for toddlers and newly independent readers.
Pat Pledger