Book Review: Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees

Celebrating dance-ability!

First, let’s be clear – this writer loves giraffes!   Perhaps because we have height in common, or their graceful gate as they trim the trees or gallop across the plain, or their quiet and observing manner.  Whatever the reason, they are amazing creatures.

In Giraffes Can’t Dance we are welcomed into the ‘secret’ world of the animal kingdom where the animals gather to party in forest.   Naturally, its a dance party!  Waltzing Warthogs and Cha-cha-ing Chimps are among the many  getting their groove on and when it is Geralds’ (the giraffe) turn, his clumsiness is found to be entirely hysterical.   A new friend helps Gerald to find his groove to his own unique music and teaches the reader that everyone CAN dance!

The text is rhythmical and precise.  the colours are bold and beautiful, and the drawings are beautiful and have a movement all their own.

Recently I shared this book with a group of boys who happen to be a part of an Autism [ASD] group.  I hesitated to read the book as they are a bit older and are just at that stage where they might think its too ‘babyish’ for them.  To my surprise, they were captivated by the drawings of the animals, enjoyed the rhythmical flow of the text,  and excited by the notion that Gerald found when his own way to groove in the forest.    We then listened to three different pieces of music, all with different qualities, and explored how we would move to that particular piece.   The result?

Absolute Magic.  Even the student who usually shies away from exploring movement found his own groove in that class.

Thanks Gerald.

Book Review: Alphabet Kids

Robbie Woliver’s (2009) Alphabet Kids:  From ADD to Zellweger Syndrome, A Guide to Developmental, Neurobiological and Psychological Disorders for Parents and Professionals   is a practical guide to the many disorders and syndromes diagnosed in children today.  Alphabet Kids walks us through multiple  syndromes and disorders (from A t0 Z), providing  us with situational examples and lists of common signs and symptoms.  Offering several  perspectives of supporting  research,  each disorder/syndrome is its own chapter beginning with terms used in the chapter, symptoms, causes, general diagnosis and treatment, and finally general prognosis.   References are included at the end of each chapter, providing the reader with a starting point for personal research.

With one in six children often being diagnosed with multiple, interconnected neurobiological, developmental, and genetic illnesses, dance teachers are wise to seek out knowledge regarding these syndromes and disorders.   This resource provides practical and useful information with which to facilitate communication between teacher and parent, encouraging a deeper understanding of behavior, to foster best teaching practices and cues.   As dance teachers our role is to understand any diagnosed conditions/syndromes of our students and to work with parents to find best ways to ensure success for the student.  Having a text such as Alphabet Kids in your library provides detailed information, written for the non-medical community (the layperson), and a place to begin your education with these syndromes and conditions.

 Author:  Jacqui Davidson