He may be massive and burly, but this rich giant of the north woods is no match for tiny, whip-smart Beatrice. Determined to dupe the big guy out of his gold coins in order to put porridge on her poor mother's table, Beatrice proposes a match of strength. Amused, the giant agrees, only to be hoodwinked again and again by the wee lass.
Margaret Willey's clever version of the classic brains vs. brawn yarn rises above and beyond the garden-variety fairy tale by virtue of Heather Solomon's stunning, unusual illustrations. Incorporating photo scraps of flowers and wood grain into her watercolor, oil, and acrylic paintings, Solomon creates richly textured visions of the upper peninsula of Michigan. Especially magical are the portrayals of men fishing, mining, and logging in the densely wooded northern landscape. We can only hope that this, Solomon's first venture into picture books, is just the beginning of a long, prolific career. (Ages 5 to 9) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
First-time illustrator Solomon makes an impressive debut in this winning tale of a spunky girl who matches her wits against a giant's brawn to save her family from destitution. Combining detailed watercolor and collage, the artist works patches of photographed tree bark, flowers, earth and grass into her paintings, creating a world in which realism blends with fantasy images to magical effect. Slender logs frame some of the pictures; in others, Beatrice and the giant appear as silhouettes against a white background. While some readers may find the heroine's cheekiness off-putting, others will admire her confidence and creative problem-solving as she tricks the giant into conceding each bet, in spite of his superior strength. Such humorous moments as when the girl wraps a rope around the giant's well and says, "I am not going to bother carrying those buckets one by one.... I would sooner pull out the whole well," are sure to amuse readers, as will the good-natured tone of the battle, which leaves the giant "smiling to himself, feeling lucky" despite his losses. Willey's engaging tale of her sharp-witted heroine's courage, enhanced by Solomon's inspired illustrations, is clever indeed. Ages 4-8.
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