I’ve had my review copy of Giants Beware! for a while now. I’ve only managed to finish reading it recently, however, because my five-year-old refused to let it leave his room; it was his go-to bedtime story for two weeks. Once I finally got my hands on Giants Beware!, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the characters were multi-faceted and the story – while centered on a desire to “kill a giant” – was actually about learning to overcome fears and using teamwork to reach a goal.
The graphic novel, written by Montclair’s own Jorge Aguirre, is aimed at children ages 7-10, but my 5-year-old loved it. (He’s obviously very advanced.) The story is the perfect antidote for the ubiquitous influence of Disney Princesses and the shallow violence in many children’s books and shows aimed at the elementary years. The main hero, a fiesty girl named Claudette, is the type of child we might both hope for and dread. She rebels and questions and simply decides she will have her way. Claudette defends her friends and is fierce when it comes to pursuing her goals. However, during her adventures, she also learns humility and how to give sincere apologies and credit to her friends. I found that a refreshing representation of a skill-set most of us could stand to learn.
Every hero needs her loyal sidekicks, and Claudette has two worthy companions. Her brother Gaston is a braver-than-he-thinks boy who wants to be a chef, and her best friend Marie dreams of growing up to be a princess, and she finds she has an adventurous side she never knew. Claudette derides Marie’s chosen princess profession, but learns to respect her friend’s abilities in times of crisis. Each character is developed through adventure and occasionally deeply touching scenes.
The artwork, by Rafael Rosado, is bold and colorful, and it seems to show movement in every frame. The scary scenes in Giants Beware! have just enough grim shade and accent for the targeted age group, and the character’s facial expressions show great personality and emotion. Each frame of this graphic novel calls out to be animated. See what I mean in the trailer below.
Something else I liked was the collection of well-rounded minor characters. Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado really worked to provide a full profile for the world Claudette inhabits, including the people she sees everyday. No character is static; they all display true personalities. Even the adventure’s villains end up showing redeeming qualities, but only after satisfying in their badness.
The one challenge with the book is that it is not broken up into definitive chapters. If someone were to – say – start reading this book to his child at bedtime, it would be very difficult to convince the sleepy child that just half the book would suffice. (My husband’s voice was hoarse from reading Giants Beware! to my son over two days.) However, for the young readers themselves, it proves a motivation to continue the story to its end. I found it easy to follow and seamless in the flow of the events and action.
An especially fantastic aspect of this book is that it will appeal to boys and girls with its vivid artwork and plucky characters. The action is fast and varied, and I read through the 200 pages in one sitting. Giants Beware! is just fun to read! The story, included under the umbrella of The Chronicles of Claudette, clearly wants a sequel, so we’ll be looking out for the next installment as soon as possible!
Giants Beware! comes out in April, but you can pre-order your copy now from Watchung Booksellers!