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Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Gilles Tibo.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 1989.
32pp., paper, $5.95.
ISBN 1-55037470-7. cloth, $14.95. ISBN 1-55037-071-5. Distributed by Firefly Books. CIP.

Kindergarten-grade 6 / Ages 5-11

Reviewed by Patricia Fry.

Volume 18 Number 2
1990 March

Good story-tellers are full of surprises. They give old tales new twists and invent wonderful yarns that sound familiar even as they're being told for the first time. Bob Munsch is no exception, and in his latest book, Giant, there are several departures from what his readers are used to, even though the familiar repetitions and patterns are employed.

The book is dedicated to Grandpa Thomas McKeon, and McKeon is the name of the giant who is angry because St. Patrick is driving all the snakes, elves and giants from Ireland and replacing them with church bells. McKeon, in his frustration, decides to throw every church bell he can find into the ocean. Eventually, McKeon and St. Patrick take their quarrel to heaven. There the giant and the saint finally accept each other as they are with some help from God, who in this book assumes the disguise of a little dark-skinned girl. At the story's end, the reader is given an explanation for shooting stars - McKeon is still throwing church bells out of heaven!

The full-page illustrations, which are balanced with text on the facing page, capture the excitement of the quarrel with the faces of the characters showing a variety of expressions. About half of the pictures, including the one repeated on the cover, epitomize the domineering giant with a gigantic visual effect by spilling over both pages and thereby squeezing the text to one corner. Before a read-aloud session, it may be helpful to give the children some background about St. Patrick and Ireland. At the end of the story, be prepared for some lively discussion about the giant threatening God and about the fact that God takes the shape of a little girl. Some youngsters become quite indignant, whereas others are very much at ease - a good situation for dialogue.

This book is a good addition to any library used by children.

Patricia Fry, Port Credit, ON.
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