No, I’m not in the target age group for this hilarious, yet touching and confidence -boosting tale of prejudice, peer pressure and self-discovery in the jungle. Definitely not! By at least 50 years or more. But so what! Good storytelling speaks to any age and the tale (excuse the pun!) of poor, lonely Gerald, a giraffe who longed to join in the big Jungle Dance, tugged at my heartstrings when I first heard it on the radio many years ago. That’s me! I thought and dashed out to buy the book.
I won’t spoil things by telling you exactly what happened to transform Gerald’s life one moonlit night; just reassure you that he realised that when we’re different sometimes all we need is a different song to dance to. I’ve taken great comfort from those words more times than I can remember since then.
Months ago, I came across this little chap stuck in some railings as I made my way to church. I’d been struggling with health issues for a long time and was feeling particularly low and discouraged that day. Enter ‘Gerald, MkII!’ I smiled; he smiled back. (In my imagination anyway. It’s difficult to maintain a cheery outlook on the world when you’re 8 inches tall and stuck in a confined space in the rain).
But seeing him brightened my day and lifted me out of the gloom I’d been wallowing in for long enough to remember the closing words of the book:
“We all can dance,” he said,
“When we find music that we love.”
– Giraffes Can’t Dance, Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees, Orchard Books 2000
Thanks Gerald…and Jessica!