The Lumbering Giants of Windy Pines

 
4.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
336 0
The Lumbering Giants of Windy Pines
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
8+
Release Date
March 12, 2024
ISBN
978-0063266537
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Ever since her dad died, 11-year-old Jerry Blum and her mom have bounced around dead-end towns, staying in a series of rundown motels where her mother picks up housekeeping work and Jerry can get around in her wheelchair. 

But the Slumbering Giant motel is different. Lights blink on and off in the surrounding trees, a mysterious radio station plays only at midnight, and people disappear into the woods, never to been seen again. Not to mention that Jerry’s mom keeps vanishing to do “special work” that she refuses to discuss. When her mother doesn’t come home one morning, Jerry springs into action.

Luckily, she’s not alone. Paul, a pocket-size imaginary dragon, and Chapel, a new friend with a penchant for the supernatural, join Jerry’s search for her missing mom. But along the way Jerry discovers her mother’s terrible secret: she’s not a housekeeper at all; in fact, she’s been defending the town from demons that have been haunting it for generations.

Armed with nothing but a Ren Faire sword and a backpack, Jerry and her friends venture into the forbidden woods to save Jerry’s mother. But the “demons” hiding there aren’t what they seem, and Jerry must unravel the truth behind the town’s legend, or risk losing what’s left of her family.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
If You Go Out in the Woods Today...
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
4.0
Jerry and her mother have struggled ever since the death of Jerry's father, and have moved around from inexpensive motel to inexpensive motel. Apartments are difficult because Jerry is in a wheelchair due to a degenerative genetic disorder. When the two land at the Slumbering Giant Motel (the "s" is on the blink, hence the title of the book), Jerry's mother tells her that this is a permanent stop. Working for Ms. Mavis at the hotel, with occasional jobs outside, is steady work that comes with a room. Jerry has had bad experiences with public school, so is happy to be home schooled, but her mother is very busy with the new job. Jerry has a small dragon named Paul to keep her company, although her mother views him as an imaginary friend. Luckily, there is another girl her age at the motel, Chapel Bell. The Bells lost their home in a fire, and are staying at the motel until they can find a new place to live. Chapel and Jerry strike up a friendship, and are soon drawn into the mystery of where Jerry's mother disappears to for so long. Jerry follows her mother's car's oil tracks into the woods, and discovers that the voices she has heard on the radio are real. The Windy Pines area has long suffered from strange disappearances in the woods, but Jerry and Chapel are able to find out more information about them that takes them in a surprising direction. What part of all of this does Ms. Mavis play? What is Jerry's mother doing in the woods? And how will Jerry and Chapel help keep the Lumbering Giant safe for everyone?

Good Points
The writing in this was particularly strong. Fast paced, well balanced, and appealing pell mell, I was swept along with the story and intrigued by the mystery. Jerry has a lot of agency for a 7th grader, and although I worried about her mother leaving her alone so much, younger readers will be glad that she has so much unsupervised time. Paul the dragon was interesting. It was good that Jerry had a friend to accompany on her adventures in the woods and was there to help out on occasion, although Jerry did quite well without help most of the time. I don't want to ruin the twists and turns in this one.

Something about the talking miniature dragon made this seem a little young. There's no good explanation for why I believe that there are demons in the woods but not a dragon in Jerry's pocket.

There are not too many books where characters who use wheelchairs get to have adventures, although this did remind me a little of Vaught's Super Max (2017). There's also Sumner's Roll With It series, Otis' At the Speed of Lies, Ghislain's A Bad Night for Bullies, John's Mascot, Stroker and Davidowitz's The Chance to Fly and several books with characters who are involved in wheelchair sports. It's good to see better representation across a variety of genres, and I was especially glad to see this representation in a fantasy adventure.
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Discovering your true ability
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
Jerry’s legs aren’t strong enough to walk for long so she’s forced to navigate using a wheelchair. Her disability is due to a hereditary problem so her legs become weaker as she grows older. Jerry is homeschooled and has gotten used to frequently moving around with her mother. Jerry doesn’t feel a need to attend public school ever again and she gets annoyed when others see the wheelchair and prejudge or pity her. These traits display the confidence, independence, and bravery necessary to take on the world, even when the world might be full of demons. Jerry eventually makes friends with a girl named Chapel who sees the wheelchair but still treats her as an equal.
Jerry’s best “friend” is an invisible, tiny dragon named Paul that she creates when her father dies. The dragon often stays in her shirt pocket and offers comments and advice as Jerry encounters challenges with her new life living in a motel. Her mother is concerned that Jerry talks to an imaginary creature (or is it?) and wants to help Jerry deal with her apparent emotional issues. Paul says he’ll protect Jerry but he struggles to fly and he can’t shoot flames so she’s not sure how he would do that. It turns out Paul has some surprises to reveal as the plot nears its climax.
People have been disappearing in the woods of Windy Pines for years so Jerry is concerned when she sees her mother entering the forest. Jerry also hears a strange voice on the radio that only broadcasts in the middle of the night. It first says “They’re coming” and later speaks of guardians. Readers won’t immediately understand what’s happening but the mysterious voice acts as a foreshadowing of events to come. It’s clear Jerry’s mother is more than the motel housekeeper and her secret, special projects are her main purpose for being in Windy Pines. The book’s title and the radio voice indicate giants will be involved in the story but who knows when, where, and why they’ll appear?
What didn’t work as well:
The plot moves into the woods and Jerry is forced to trek through the trees and old mines to find her mother. It’s not always easy but she doesn’t seem to have much trouble navigating the challenging natural obstacles in the middle of the night. She needs help at times but her movements aren’t always believable.
The final verdict:
This book offers a unique twist to familiar ghost stories. The wheelchair is an interesting addition and the origin of the demons isn’t what readers might expect. Overall, this is a fun adventure and I recommend you give it a shot.
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