So it's birthday time again for nieces. I love shopping for presents. Hope they like them as much as I do.
This is a fun and energetic book with vibrant and beautiful illustrations.
"Now every year in Africa
they hold the Jungle Dance,
where every single animal
turns up to skip and prance.
and this year when the day arrived
poor Gerald felt so sad,
because when it came to dancing
he was really very bad."
Poor Gerald jumps in the dance anyway, and of course all the other animals laugh him out of the clearing. Why do kids, peopl, animals have to be so mean?
so Gerald slinks away, shame-faced and humiliated, but before he gets too far, he is stopped by a cricket, with a fiddle. Cricket has this wise advice,
"Listen to the swaying grass and listen to the trees. To me the sweetest music is those branches in the breeze. So imagine that the lovely moon is playing just for you --everything makes music if you really want it to."
And before you know it, Gerald starts feeling it, the cricket starts playing, and all the other animals are attracted to the new music, where they find Gerald dancing a beautiful dance. Yay! say all the other animals. You CAN dance. Gerald acknowledges them with a bow, and that's where the story ends. I almost took off a star for that, because nowhere at all does Gerald give any credit to Cricket! I find that incredibly lacking.
Gerald merely takes their acclaim as his due, and the cricket disappears completely. In fact, I pored hard over the last four pages and I couldn't even find him hiding in the shadows.
So Gerald takes all the kudos (BOO. I think it sends the wrong message, but my husband says I'm overthinking it, and get over it -- it's a book for a one-year-old, for heavens sake.)
And I guess it also sends a message for unsung heroes who apparently want none of the spotlight -- and I guess those kinds of people are out there too, so perhaps, in this case at least, the two balance each other out, and this little book still ends up with all the stars. (He's totally right, I am way overthinking this. Which just serves to illustrate how much I loved this book. Hope Elana likes it as much.)