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Clay Boy Hardcover – May 30, 1997

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2. A retelling of a traditional Russian folktale. An older couple whose children have grown and gone away yearn for the company of a child. Grandpa fashions a boy out of a piece of clay, and as the boy dries out by the fire, Clay Boy comes to life saying, "I am here! I am hungry!" The two old peasants feed him all they have and watch him in astonishment as he quickly grows to gargantuan proportions. But Clay Boy's appetite cannot be satisfied so he goes outside and eats the chickens, geese, cat, dog, then Grandma and Grandpa (yikes!), and all the other inhabitants of this rural Old World village. The last living being is a little white goat who saves the day by destroying Clay Boy and rescuing all held captive within him. Children will be engaged by the fast pace of events and simplicity of character and outcome. However, the visual interpretation of this tale is potentially frightening. While Smith's watercolors masterfully portray all of the characters and scenes, his rendition of the boy made of clay is at times so grotesquely distorted that it could cause nightmares.?Amelia Kalin, Valley Cottage Library, NY
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From The New Yorker

Children will be engaged by the fast pace of events and simplicity of character and outcome...
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 320L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; 1st edition (May 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688144098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688144098
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 9.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "hurburgh" on July 3, 2001
Format: Library Binding
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What is it about most traditional East European folk tales? They nearly always have a sinister, sometimes scary story line. "Clay Boy" is no exception.
The concept of a clay boy that comes to life is very reminiscent of Pinocchio. An elderly couple known as Grandpa and Grandma are lonely now that their children have grown up. The clay boy is to become their child substitute.
There is one big problem when he comes alive. He is insatiably hungry. He eats and eats, and he grows and grows until he ate all the food in the house. "More More" he cries.
Now things get a little macabre. He's seen gulping down whole live chickens, and then the geese, cat and dog are consumed. Then it's Grandma and Grandpa's turn to be on the menu.
By now, Clay Boy is of giant proportions. In one bite, he eats a man, a wagon, a horse and a load of hay. GULP!
He is still unsatisfied, after swallowing everybody in the village.
But then, he meets his match.
A very cunning goat (check out the face on this Billy) offers to jump straight into Clay Boy's mouth, but on one condition: Clay Boy has to close his eyes.
The goat took a great leap straight at the big fat belly. Clay Boy broke into a hundred pieces and all the people and animals that he had swallowed tumbled out. The goat was the hero of the village and had his horns painted gold. Such rejoicing!
No explicit moral is given in this story. But what does this folk tale tell us? Will insatiable greed and endless consumption lead only to annihilation?
There is also a modern message here. Now that most of us live far removed from our parent's homes, perhaps we should spend more time with our folks so they don't get lonely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shopper Aware on January 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I am a Pre-Kindergarten teacher and I use this book after we are done with all the different Gingerbread Man books. Granted, it is just the 4-5 year old children who I read this to, however we have a discussion first about the difference in fiction vs nonfiction. Children in my class know that fiction is only pretend or make believe. They have gained an awareness from the beginning of the year about this concept. They are also used to the antics of the Gingerbread man and his usual ultimate demise. As we read the Clay Boy, they are expecting an outcome that is the same. They are so surprised that all of the animals and townspeople are safe and then have a party with the goat as the guest of honor. We then discuss the differences between this book and the Gingerbread stories. I am surprised at their insight and answers, since they are able to give me each one, as we write the responses on a chart. There is a lot of laughter and enjoyment since I have prefaced the reading with, "This is not real; it is pretend." Finally each child creates 3-D art as they come over one by one to make a Clay Boy for display. The results are amazing because they really "Get it!" Adults need to read children's books first and lay the ground work. That is missing in so many situations, however teachers do this daily.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ilene Appel Marker on December 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My friend was given this book as a gift for her daughters, aged 2 1/2. Since she's in constant motion with her twins, she asked me to post this review. One of the girls was rather uninterested, and unaffected, by the story, but the second one was nothing short of traumatized by the images depicted in this story, particularly of the Clay Boy devouring a horse, with its rider and cart. She has had nightmares ever since and constantly asks her mother "Is the Clay Boy outside our house?" and "Will the horse be OK?" The illustrations are wonderfully done, but they are a bit too lifelike for those too young to understand. I think this book is much more appropriate for children who are at least four or five.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris on September 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Clayboy is a favorite of mine and the children in my early childhood special education classroom. Clay Boy comes to life saying "I'm here! I'm hungry!" The story concludes with the raveneous boy getting his "just desserts"! Mirra does a wonderful job of finding just the right word to go with the actions. Read with expression, this book is sure to please even those children who find books and stories "boring"!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By NKG on July 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I thought this would be a cute version of the gingerbread man. My three year-old was intrigued but troubled by this story. As another reviewer mentioned, there are graphic illustrations of clay boy eating everybody. I thought it would be good for my daughter to see that everybody is saved in the end. But then she wanted to know, "where is Clay Boy?" How to explain that this clay boy who has been talking and eating and walking around has been unceremoniously shattered into a million pieces to save the townspeople inside? Thank God I only borrowed it from the library and can return it promptly.
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By PuroShaggy on September 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This adapted Russian Folktale- Gingerbread man with a malicious twist!- ranks as one of my all time favorite children's stories, and having taught early elementary for 18 years, this is also one of my students all time favorite books year in and year out.
An old man and old woman, lonely, without child, decide to make a clay child. When the clay boy emerges from the oven, he is ravenously hungry, not only devouring everything in the house, but also eating their chicken, cat, and dog (pictured huddled together in fear, ignoring their innate disposition to fight). Nothing seems to satisfy the clay boy, so he devours the old man and woman, takes to the road and devours several peasants, and enters the small village on an eating rampage. It is not until he meets a wise goat that the clay boy's hunger meets its match and the villagers are saved.
The story is simple and straightforward, and to be honest, slightly frightening. It is the illustrations, however, that make this story simpy great. Clay Boy is ridiculously oversized, intimidating yet some cartoonish. His repeated cries of "More! More food" are also scary yet funny, and as a teacher, reading this book aloud is a blast. The students, even the older ones, are always engaged, slightly scared, and then obviously relieved when the goat appears and saves the day.
A classic telling of a Russian folktale!
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