Billy is in a bit of pickle; he cannot reach to finish the mural AND he does not believe Grandad’s tall tales about the secret giant with ‘hands the size of tables, legs as long as drainpipes and feet as big as rowing boats.’ This giant is gentle, helpful and good and he spends his time helping the people of Gableview, ‘quietly and without making a fuss.’ He has even helped out Billy and Grandad as well as rescuing Murphy the dog when he got stuck on a roof.
Billy cannot understand why the giant wants to stay such a BIG secret so Grandad explains, ‘Because people are scared of things that are different….When people see the giant, they scream and run away. It makes him sad.’
When Billy does meet the giant his first reaction is to run away as fast as he can. His second reaction is not to be scared of things that are different and so he turns back. The giant is gone. Billy is sad but Grandad tells him that we all make mistakes and encourages Billy to think for himself of a way to make the giant feel better. Billy hatches a plan based on what he thinks we all need when we are upset. (You’ll have to read the story to find out the answer!).
There is a wonderful luminosity to David’s illustrations. Each page plays with light and shadow to create a magical effect. The smoke beams from chimneys like searchlights which are echoed in the shape of the giant’s feet. A giant wave rises up from a page like Hokusai’s. The town moves from a cool blue to a warm orange.
A wonderful understated story with a strong message about accepting people for who they are as well as accepting yourself. This story explains empathy in a simple yet powerful way.
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