Giraffes Can’t Dance

Whether on display in a book store, library, or classroom, Giles Andreae’s Giraffes Can’t Dance is sure to catch the eyes of readers young and old. The bright and bold cover art by Guy Parker-Rees grabs your attention and consequentially has you grabbing the book. It is that same art that will captivate your young readers. Parker-Rees’ humorous watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations compliment the magical story about a knobby-kneed, clumsy-legged giraffe that has trouble getting his moves right on the dance floor.

Andreae’s rhyming text makes Giraffes Can’t Dance an easy and fun read. It lures readers in and transports them right onto the jungle dance floor alongside cha-cha-cha-ing chimps, rocking rhinos, and lions doing the tango. Andreae does not skimp on incorporating meaning to the story, either, with character education threads on bullying, courage, respect and self-concept. When Gerald the giraffe is overcome by his own insecurities about dancing, an encouraging cricket advises him that every good dancer finds and makes his own music. It is just enough to get Gerald back to the dance floor, boogying with the rest.

As a former teacher, I found Giraffes Can’t Dance to be limitless in its student applications. It is a fantastic read-aloud and a great mentor text for the teaching and modeling of good comprehension strategies. It also makes a perfect tool for promoting classroom discussions or writings about character education. Lastly, with its many mentions of traditional dances, beat, music and rhythm, Giraffes Can’t Dance is ripe for any number of cross-curricular extensions in physical education.

Kerry Williams is in Regional Accounts at Booksource. She was an early childhood educator for four years.

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