Friday, July 3, 2015

Giants Beware

Giants Beware
Rafael Rosado
Jorge Aguirre (Illustrator)
First Second, 2012  202 pgs
Grades 2-6
Graphic Novel

Our story opens with a telling of the village legend of the baby-feet eating giant who lives beyond the forest and has caused the village to live in fear, safely barricaded behind stone walls. Young Claudette longs for adventure. She wants to be a giant-slayer like her monster killing/blacksmith father. Poppa lost legs and his sword arm and although he's strong and tough relies on his all suffering assistant Zubair. Claudette finally realizes that the time is right and escapes the village to kill the giant. Companions include brother Gaston and friend Marie, who is the Marquis' (mayor) daughter. The team encounters many obstacles in their quest, first escaping capture by the Apple Hag and then saving Marie from being forced to marry the son of the River King and gaining access to cross.They use their wits to find their way, escape enemies and survive in the wild. Finally they reach the forest where the giant lives. Claudette utilizes the magic given to her earlier by Zubair, revealing the true nature of the giant and discovering that all was not as they have been told all of their lives. Meanwhile, both fathers have been journeying to rescue their offsprings with less successful results. Eventually all are reunited and the children return to their village to great fanfare; a little wiser and having gained a friend.

Set in fairytale, medieval times, Giants Beware is an exciting  classic quest with infused humor and modern touches. Main character, Claudette, is spunky, fearless, and androgynous, making her relatable to both boys and girls. Brother Gaston is the family chef, further expanding gender expectations. Marie, who aspires to princess-hood, is more of a traditionalist, but is as brave as the other two and proves that princesses can still kick butt. The action never stops, nor does the humor. Poppa's relationship with Zubair is hilarious and will elicit giggles from readers. Rosado offers a creative plot with interesting and different villains all within a traditional framework. Themes include following your dreams no matter what society says, gender equality, overcoming preconceived notions, and loyalty and friendship. Full color illustrations by Aguirre help to convey the story, add extra humor and are easy to scan. The book reads quickly, yet has substance. It will be enjoyed by all and may lead the reader to the team's new offering Dragon's Beware.

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