Giants Beware! by Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre. Graphic novels aren’t my favorites for reading aloud, but I was so excited about this one that I read it aloud to my son. (I read about it on Charlotte’s Library as well as PW.) Even the toddler, normally impatient with my reading to Brother instead of her, was captivated by the bright, vivacious drawings. Active Claudette is incensed when she learns that the hero of her small town did not kill the baby-feet eating giant that plagued it in years past. Even though the giant has been banished to the mountains and the city is safely enclosed within walls, she decides that it’s up to her to slay the giant. She’s the kind of kid who makes up her mind first and thinks through the problems second, if at all. Her first task is convincing her best friend, Marie, a would-be princess, and her little brother Gaston, a chef who dreams of being a sword smith, to come along. This she does by telling them that their ambitions will of course be fulfilled if they come along. They must all then get around Claudette and Gaston’s father, Augustine, the local sword-smith, crippled from a fight with a dragon years ago, and his assistant, the massive, wise and black Zubair, whose words about the foolishness of monster fighting go right over Claudette’s head. Their journey leads them through the Forest of Death, over (or perhaps also through) the Mad River, and up into the mountains. Meanwhile, the Baron of the village, Claudette’s father, leads a party of reluctant villagers in pursuit of the children, while Augustine and Zubair take up a more enthusiastic chase, though slowed by Augustine’s wheelchair. Each one of the children finds that their particular skills will be needed to get them out of one scrape or another along the way. By the end, the quest is accomplished, even if the goal has changed along the way. Claudette has also learned important lessons about the usefulness both of force and telling the truth. These are clear without being preachy or getting in the way of the fabulous adventure. Giants Beware! is a great counter-example to the truism that boys will only read about boys – yes, Gaston is a boy, but Claudette is clearly the reckless adventure-seeker here, and her drive kept my boy enthralled. This is going to the top of my list of good all-ages graphic novels to give both to people who love them already and to people (I keep finding them) who aren’t yet convinced that real literature can come in graphic form.
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