Gerald the giraffe doesn’t truly have delusions of grandeur. He just wants to dance. But his knees are crooked and his legs are thin, and all of the other animals mock him when he approaches the dance floor at the yearly Jungle Dance. “Hey, look at clumsy Gerald,” they sneer. “Oh, Gerald, you’re so weird.” Poor Gerald slinks away as the chimps cha-cha, rhinos rock ‘n’ roll, and warthogs waltz. But an encouraging word from an unlikely source shows this glum giraffe that those who are different “just need a different song,” and soon he is prancing and sashaying and boogying to moon music (with a cricket accompanist). In the vein of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Gerald’s fickle “friends” quickly make a decision he’s worthy of their attention again.
With this rhyming, poignant (in a cartoonish way) tale, Giles Andreae, creator of Rumble in the Jungle, and a lot of other picture books, shows insecure young readers that everyone can be wonderful, even those that march to the beat of a different cricket. The rhymes are slightly awkward, but the bold, bright watercolors by Guy Parker-Rees will invite readers to kick up their heels and find their own internal harmony. (Ages 3 to 6) –Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
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 yearly Jungle Dance in Africa, Gerald feels sad “because with regards to dancing/ he was truly 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 at the back of. Luckily, a friendly cricket appears in the moonlight, chirping a morale-boosting song of self-confidence that soon sets Gerald in graceful motion. Andreae’s rhyming text has a jaunty rhythm that’s likely to spark interest in the read-aloud crowd, in spite of a heavy-handed message. Parker-Rees’s kicky depictions of fairly anthropomorphic animals boogying on the dance floor are the highlight here. His watercolor and pen-and-ink artwork exudes a fun, party vibe. Ages 3-6.
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