Gerald the giraffe longs to dance, but his legs are too skinny and his neck is too long. At the Jungle Dance, the warthogs waltz, the chimps cha-cha, and the lions tango. "Giraffes can't dance," they all jeer when it's Gerald's turn to prance. But with some sound advice from a wise cricket, Gerald starts swaying to his own sweet tune.
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. 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 slightly 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. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.