Title: Giraffes Can’t Dance
Author: Giles Andreae
Illustrator: Guy Parker-Rees
Published: Cartwheel Books, 2012
Know how some books are REALLY popular and then you read the book yourself and you can kind of see where everyone is coming from, but…you don’t LOVE the book yourself?
That’s this book for me.
I ADORE so many board books. The Gruffalo is one of my all time faves…and Oh No, George! And anything by Sandra Boynton. And when we received Giraffes Can’t Dance, I was hopeful. The art is really fun and cute. That’s +5 points from me right off the bat. And the story is…well…it’s a story. I mean, I like the overall message of “you do you” and “dance to your own music even if you’re a really crappy dancer.” (I can relate, Gerald. Don’t you worry, I’m not judging you on your inability to dance. I am the last person on the planet who would do that.)
Anyway, I *like* the message. I just don’t love the delivery.
Specific examples? OK. Here we go.
- “Now every year in Africa…” Dude, that’s like saying “Every year in North America” or “Every year in Asia” – it’s a continent, not a country. Couldn’t you be a bit more specific about location? I just feel like this reinforces the ignorance of people saying “Africa” like it’s just one big country. Sorry, it’s a personal pet peeve.
- Why did Gerald only feel bad this specific year? Like, he was probably a bad dancer his entire life, not just this given year. I know, I know. I’m being picky.
- The animals say “giraffes can’t dance,” but there are no other giraffes AT the dance. How could they possibly know? (Potentially from previous years of watching Gerald crash and burn?)
- OK, I have an issue with this verse: “Gerald simply froze up,/He was rooted to the spot./They’re right, he thought. I’m useless./Oh, I feel like such a clot. It’s the thought/clot rhyme. Most kids have no idea what ‘clot’ means. Not that I’m against learning new words, but this feels sooooo dated. My mother used to use this phrase, and maybe it’s more popular in England (where I believe this was published first), but…my kids didn’t know what Gerald meant. There are so many good rhyming words in the ‘ot’ family…couldn’t the author have chosen another one?
- I hate it when authors double up a word unnecessarily to make a rhyme work. It feels SO forced. Like:
“They shouted, “It’s a miracle!/We must be in a dream./Gerald’s the best dancer/that we’ve ever, ever seen!” It. Feels. Forced.
So…yeah, I don’t love this book. I’ve read it repeatedly to my kiddos. I’ve done the voices. We’ve talked about how the other animals were total bullies to Gerald and how people don’t get to do that to you. We’ve talked about being true to yourself.
But I don’t love the story.
But I do love the art.
Mama’s review: B-