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Robin Muller.

Richmond Hill (ON), Scholastic-Tab Publications, c1982.
44pp, cloth, $9.95.
ISBN 0-590-71106-7.

Grades 4 and up.
Reviewed by Patrick Dunn.

Volume 11 Number 3.
1983 May.

With Mollie Whuppie and the Giant, Robin Muller reworks the traditional tale in which a young hero defeats a villainous giant: Mollie as Jack the Giant-Killer. Abandoned deep in the forest by desperately poor parents, Mollie and her two sisters seek refuge in an old house, only to discover that the owner boils children for breakfast. Fortunately for them, quick-witted Mollie outfoxes the giant, and the girls manage to escape to a wondrous kingdom. At the splendid palace they learn more about the menace to the countryside. Since no one has ever escaped from the giant's clutches before, the king immediately sets Mollie the task of ridding his domain of the monster. To overcome him, Mollie must return to his house three times. In return for freeing the kingdom, she obtains handsome, appreciative husbands for herself and her two sisters.

All in all, Mollie is an extremely attractive heroine: intelligent, courageous, resourceful, and optimistic. Full of spunk, she is a natural leader who deals effectively, decisively with the numerous perils she encounters. Undeterred by seemingly overwhelming odds, she succeeds where the most valiant knights meet only death. For his part, the giant is suitably nasty, deliciously brutish. Even his daughters are particularly horrid creatures who taunt the frightened sisters with tales of their father's bloodthirsty acts. Readers of all ages will feel little sympathy for them when they suffer the fate intended for Mollie and her sisters.

Muller, the author-illustrator, has achieved an admirable match between his text and the satisfying black-and-white illustrations. Though relatively spare, both elicit deeply felt responses. For example, who could be more forlorn than the three sisters at the door of the giant's house, sandwiched between the ominous, impenetrable forest in the background and the big, ugly woman in the foreground? Even Mollie, who is either un-repentantly defiant or irrepressibly cheerful in all of the other frames, is more than subdued here.

Not a few adults will probably be somewhat upset with the "happy-ever-after marriage to a prince" ending. I, myself, would have felt a certain disquietude over this "legitimation" of the heroine had not Muller qualified the traditional conclusion. We are informed that both Mollie and her husband ruled the land, wisely and mercifully. She remains as active and capable as wife and queen as she was as plucky waif.

Mollie Whuppie is a marvelously appealing, universal tale of the triumph of wit over brute strength, good over evil. As such it will be enjoyed by all. Highly recommended for public library children's collections and elementary school libraries.

Patrick Dunn, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
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