November 25, 2017

giants beware

Giants Beware!

Jorge Aguirre (writer) and Raphael Rosado (artist)

Pub. 2012

208 pgs.

Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Hi-Lo

Summary / Review / TLDR / Recommended For / Issues / Themes / Grade


Summary

Claudette has never been satisfied with the stories they tell in her hometown of Mont Petit Pierre, particularly those surrounding the Baby-Feet Eating Giant. There’s no good ending to that story–somehow the giant gets chased into the mountains and that’s it. Well, Claudette won’t sit still for it. She cons her cowardly little brother and her slightly stick-in-the-mud best friend to go with her to take down the giant once and for all. That’s what heroes do, what?

Along the way they run into hungry hags and match-making river kings, vine monsters and violent storms. Each child has to prove their worth to each other, but mostly to themselves. Determination is what gets them to the mountain, but it will take more than that to get them home!

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Review

Wow, this book is kinda..boring. Predictable, too. I could see where was going the entire time, and that place was just kinda “meh.” It’s a fairytale, so there’s some level of “been there, done that” that is acceptable. However, I think most middle schoolers would be like me and see the “twist” coming from a few hundred pages away.

Pun intended.

The action was sometimes hard to follow in the art. That being said, the art was pretty to look at. The big scenes offer enough detail to catch the eye, and Rosado does an amazing job capturing characters’ expressions. There’s one sextet showing Claudette’s reaction to Gaston and Marie, and you can tell exactly how she’s feeling in each frame. It’s cleverly done. Too bad that the writing itself isn’t as good.

The characters on the whole aren’t very well-developed. Claudette’s main personality trait seems to be “loud and obnoxious,” since she spends the vast majority of the book shouting. While Marie’s obsession with becoming a princess does get them out of a tough spot, she still feels pretty cardboard. Gaston is probably the most likable of the trio, though his whole baking obsession leads to some moments that shattered my suspension of disbelief. He brings cookware, but no food? Okay, fair enough, but then he finds a fistful of truffles and is going to cook an entire dinner with them? He makes baked apples and expressly talks about sugar…but where did they get the sugar from? C’mon, book. Giants and random magic I can handle, but at least stay consistent with your real-life stuff!

Actually, I really wanted to know more about the father’s background. When did he try to fight the dragon? How did he fail? What lessons could he impress upon his brash daughter that could, y’know, save her life? I mean, since she seems so intent on beating up things a hundred times her size, keeping that kind of information from her just seems ludicrous. We also get a tantalizing hint that her mother was also a brash young heroine in her day, but that’s all. What happened to the mom? Was she vaguely less shout-y and annoying than her daughter?

And where did the assistant, Zubair come from? He obviously knows something about giants. Did he the help “giant killer” from the story? The setting seems like Medieval France, D&D Edition, which wasn’t known for being the most welcoming place for outsiders. Therefore, how did he, a dark-skinned man, arrive and get to be accepted within the village? How did he start working for Claudette’s father? And how did he know how to stop the giant?

See what I mean? This book plays everything so close to the surface that none of my actual questions get answered. Sure, it’s a graphic novel, but even graphic novels tend to have some depth, character development, and consistency to them. This one was just fluff all the way through. Kids reading for page counts or projects might enjoy it, but don’t expect to find anything truly meaningful.

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TLDR

Just answer my questions, Aguirre! Maybe a little less shouting and a little more substance next time?

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Recommended for…

  • Fans of Bone who don’t mind something that isn’t as good as Bone
  • Struggling readers who have difficulty finding meaning below the surface
  • People who don’t mind stories that feel incomplete

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Issues

  • Bullying: some characters bully others
  • Deceit: characters trick others frequently
  • Lying: all kinds of lying
  • Theft: characters steal from one another
  • Violence: fantasy violence
  • Weapon Use: swords and similar fantasy weapons are used

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Themes

  • Determination
  • Family
  • Friendship
  • Good vs. Evil
  • Heroism
  • Honesty
  • Responsibility
  • Right vs. Wrong
  • Survival

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Grade

Main Character 1
Subcast 1
Setting Development 2
Exploration of Conflict 2
Satisfying Resolution 1
Consideration of Themes 1
Didactic Tone 2
Suspension of Disbelief 1
Imagery and Description 2
Compelling Storytelling 1
Author’s Style 2
Rhythm and Pace of Book 1
Mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation) 2
Predictability 0
Reader Enjoyment 0
Total 19/30
63%

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