The Giant-Slayer

 
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The Giant-Slayer
Author(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
November 10, 2009
ISBN
0385733763
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A girl’s imagination transports polio-afflicted kids into a fantastic world. The spring of 1955 tests Laurie Valentine’s gifts as a storyteller. After her friend Dickie contracts polio and finds himself confined to an iron lung, Laurie visits him in the hospital. There she meets Carolyn and Chip, two other kids trapped inside the breathing machines. Laurie’s first impulse is to flee, but Dickie begs her to tell them a story. And so Laurie begins her tale of Collosso, a rampaging giant, and Jimmy, a tiny boy whose destiny is to become a slayer of giants. As Laurie embellishes her tale with gnomes, unicorns, gryphons, and other fanciful creatures, Dickie comes to believe that he is a character in her story. Little by little Carolyn, Chip, and other kids who come to listen, recognize counterparts as well. Laurie’s tale is so powerful that when she’s prevented from continuing it, Dickie, Carolyn, and Chip take turns as narrators. Each helps bring the story of Collosso and Jimmy to an end—changing the lives of those in the polio ward in startling ways.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

A Giant of a Tall Tale
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
In 1950, polio was the big scare. No one was sure how you contracted it and how to cure it. Although the immunization was soon developed, there were many people who contracted it, some of whom recovered, some of whom died and some of whom were confined to iron lungs to help them breathe.

And so it is that twelve year Lauries best (and only) friend Dickie gets polio, presumably from swimming in the local creek. Lauries father is a fund raiser for March of Dimes, an organization whose purpose is to fund research and medical care for polio victims. He knows when it is and isnt contagious, but hed be upset if he knew Laurie was visiting Dickie and his two roommates, Chip and Carolyn, in the hospital.

Dickie is always upbeat. Chip is neither upbeat nor depressed. Carolyn hates the world. Shes been stuck in her iron lung for eight years, her parents gradually decreasing their visits and ultimately moving away. Laurie was always a good story teller and to pass the time, she begins telling her friends a story.

Once upon a time, there was a giant named Colossus who terrorized the countryside. You cannot imagine how big he is. He is huge. One evening, in a horrible thunder storm, during a crack of thunder, Jimmy is born to an innkeeper and his wife. At that exact moment, Colossus has an uneasy feeling. He knows that when Jimmy grows up, he will come looking to kill the giant. As the son of an innkeeper, Jimmy hears stories from the travelers stopping at the inn: hunters, minstrels, and traders and is fascinated by them. The only problem with Jimmy traveling to slay the giant is that Jimmy is less than three feet tall, and due to a Wishmans spell cast on him, he will grow no taller. How can a three foot tall boy kill a huge giant?

Ive always liked Iain Lawrence. His teen books, B is for Buster, Gemini Summer and The Lightkeepers Daughter are wonderful reads. The Giant-Slayer is the first book of his that Ive read for middle schoolers and its a delight. The story is a great story full of monsters and dragons and witches and gypsies. The descriptions of the countryside and the giant and the characters (both real and imaginary) are vivid, enabling you to picture them. The stories of Dickie and Chip and Carolyn emerge as Laurie continues her tale. There are some surprises along the way. You might learn a little something about the 1950s while youre reading the book. But, dont let that stop you. The Giant-Slayer is a giant sized tale.
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