Giants Beware

Book Reviews

Aguirre, Jorge Giants Beware!; written by Jorge Aguirre; story by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado; illus. by Rafael Rosado. First Second/Roaring Brook, 2012 202p Paper ed. ISBN 978-1-59643-582-7 $14.99 R Gr. 3-6

There’s not enough excitement in Claudette’s small town of Mont Petit Pierre, so, taking up the monster-slaying mantle set down by her now invalid father, she sets out to defeat the legendary baby-feet-eating giant that dwells in the nearby mountains. Joined by her best friend Marie, a princess in training, and her younger brother Gaston (who is far more experienced with a fork and knife than a sword), Claudette embarks on a journey fraught with danger as she and her pals outsmart witches, battle river gods, discover inner strengths, and learn that monsters aren’t always what they appear to be. Although the tale in this graphic novel has certainly been told before, the spunky Claudette and her quirky company are irresistibly appealing, and Aguirre and Rosado employ some pretty foolproof, kid-friendly tactics to keep the story moving along at a brisk clip (Claudette, for example, uses the explosive power of her smelly feet to defeat a man-eating forest). Most charming, however, are the vibrantly hued illustrations that feature a red-headed, diminutive Claudette, who makes up for her tiny size with a cavernous mouth that often overtakes her face as she screeches out various orders and threats. The character’s cartoonish figures are expressive, with a simple quirk of the eyebrow indicating smugness or fear, and the full-color landscapes are riddled with visual jokes and puns. Entertaining, lively, and downright goofy, this will find an audience among fans of fairy tales and comic books alike.  KQG

Giants Beware!
Aguirre, Jorge (author).  Illustrated by Rafael Rosado.  Apr. 2012. 208p. First Second, paperback, $14.99 (9781596435827). Grades 2-5. 741.5. REVIEW.  First published March 15, 2012 (Booklist).

You’ve heard it all before. A reckless and adventurous child runs off with a dog companion and friends, and together they brave dangerous terrain and confront the monster that has been terrorizing their town, only to learn that things are not always as they appear and that nothing is more valuable than friendship. But when your reckless adventurer is a tomboy, and her little brother yearns to be both a sword maker and a pastry chef, and when the standard for becoming a good princess is intelligence and cunning, and when the success of the quest ultimately hinges on saving the giant, it’s clear that with strategic tweaks to just the right expectations, a familiar story can be invested with all the charm and fun a young reader could want. In a format running rampant with animation- and manga-inspired art, Rosado distinguishes his work with the rounded figures and distinctive characteristics of Charles Schulz and action that engages but doesn’t become chaotic. A zingy little story told with fine flair. — Jesse Karp

Horn Book Magazine:
Giants Beware!
by Jorge Aguirre; illus. by Rafael Rosado; color by John Novak and Matthew Schenk
Primary, Intermediate First Second/Roaring Brook 204 pp.
4/12 Paper ed. 978-1-59643-582-7 $14.99
This winning graphic novel will inspire kids dreaming of becoming knights and princesses alike by mixing appealing fairy-tale plots with unconventional solutions. Tiny but tough and feistily redheaded, Claudette is unwavering: slaying giants is every responsible citizen’s duty. Adults, including her own father (who lost two limbs fighting monsters), warn her that violence is not always the answer, nor does it always work out as she expects. To protect her hometown and its people, our headstrong tomboy enlists the help of her best friend, princess-in-training Marie, and her cautious younger brother, Gaston, to kill the rumored local giant. The three set out on a quest but learn that monsters may not actually be what they are reported to be, and that being worthy heroes takes heart, smarts, and courage. With bright colors and a simple, caricature-heavy art style, the book reflects its creators’ honed animation skills. Humorous facial expressions and deft comic timing from panel to panel fill the book with as many laughs as suspenseful confrontations. The violence stays light, despite Claudette’s initial bloodthirsty attitude, and while the quest is straightforward, the lessons learned along the way are suitably complex for the older-elementary kids who will most enjoy this title. A few conversations hint at back stories that could lead to future installments, and further adventures of this trio would no doubt be welcome. ROBIN BRENNER

Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine [or Guide, as applicable] by permission of The Horn Book, Inc.,

School Library Journal:
★ AGUIRRE, Jorge. Giants Beware! illus. by Rafael Rosado. 202p. First Second. 2012. pap $14.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-582-7.

Gr 3-6–A blacksmith’s daughter is unsatisfied with her peaceful life within the fortress of Mont Petit Pierre. Rambunctious and loudmouthed, Claudette yearns for action, like killing the giant that lives on the mountain outside of town. With her timid brother, Gaston, and her ladylike friend, Marie, she blusters her way through the fortress gate and into the Forest of Death, beyond which lies the Mad River, and then Giant’s Peak. Can these three kids, armed with a wooden sword, Marie’s intelligence, Gaston’s fortitude, Claudette’s stinky feet, and a pug named Valiant, survive in the wilderness and defeat the giant? Of course they can, but not in the ways they might have expected. The adults in the story are distinguished by exaggerated characteristics, but their actions are driven by realistic, largely generous motives. The story strikes a fine balance between being action-and friendship-driven. The art is similarly well-balanced: Rosado’s ink drawings are strong and lively, with expressive characters and well-drawn landscapes. Digitally applied color is natural, bright, and nonintrusive. Fans of Jimmy Gownley’s “Amelia Rules” (S &S) and Jeff Smith’s “Bone” series (Scholastic) will snap this title up.–Paula Willey , Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD


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