By Rafael Rosado
Illustrated by Jorge Aguirre
First Second (Macmillan)
In Stores April 10, 2012
One part Asterix, one part Jeff Smith’s Bone, one part Scrappy-Doo, Giants Beware! takes the classic “friends on a quest” adventure and outfits it with a generous splash of modernity. This is a book that will catch plenty of boys and girls it its net of likability.
The brave Marquis saved the kingdom of Mont Petit Pierre from destruction. At least that’s how the story goes. But one part of the story is key to the spunky Claudette – that the giant was scared away, not vanquished. She would like to finish the job. After
lying to creatively persuading her culinary-minded little brother Gaston and princess-in-training Marie to join in the giant-slaying, the trio embark on their journey. After some fantastical twists and turns, the quest leads to a giant all right, but it isn’t exactly the fearsome monster they expected – it’s a baby.
The characterization is stronger than you might expect from this sort of story. Claudette, Marie, and Gaston are a trio readers will remember. Each has a distinct personality, adding a layer of substance amid the fun.
Speaking of fun, humor plays a key role throughout. While there are moments that seem to speak to adults more than kids, the jokes come early and often and there are a lot that will hit their target.
The vivid illustrations are fluid and expressive. Panel layouts are basic, ensuring an easy read.
From what I understand, this book was originally to be titled Claudette, but Giants Beware! won out. Given the boy/girl appeal potential of the story, I think this was a wise choice to keep things a bit more gender-neutral.
A qualm. Toward the end of the book, references to other giants left me a bit baffled. I was expecting the baby giant’s parents to show up, but they never did. A small blip on the overall story, but something that took me out of the action.
Sporting unusually high levels of appeal, Giants Beware! Add it to your graphic novel ranks with confidence. My guess is, it won’t be on the shelf for long.
Review copy from the publisher.