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The Giants and the Joneses Paperback – May 27, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5–Most giants in Groil disregard the fairy tale about the tiny thief who once climbed a plant up to their land, but young Jumbeelia is sure that the pocket-sized iggly plops must exist. She drops a mysterious seed over the cloud edge, and, sure enough, a bimplestonk grows in the night. She climbs down to the miniature world where she collects some souvenirs, including three children–Collette; her brother, Stephen; and their baby sister, Poppy. The humans attempt to communicate with their huge captor, but, like all giants, Jumbeelia speaks only Groilish, and, in any case, she is too large to hear them. She installs the children in her dollhouse and plays nicely with her new toys, but her brother is jealous and wants the iggly plops for his own. When he gets hold of them, he plays cruel, dangerous games with them, even forcing Stephen into deadly combat with a colossal wasp. The children resolve to escape, but the giant world is filled with dangerous objects and enormous creatures, including a very hungry cat and a mad old giant with a grudge against humans. The use of Groilish adds the appeal of a secret code to the story. All dialogue among the giants is written strictly in their own language. In-text translation is rare, although almost everything is clear in context. Dictionaries are provided so that young readers can become proficient in the lingo. An exciting story with a subtle message about respect and cooperation.–Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“An exciting story with a subtle message about respect and cooperation.” ―School Library Journal
“Whether read aloud or alone, this British import has an effervescent sincerity that makes it both enjoyable and memorable.” ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“The Giants and the Joneses had humour, suspense and an invented language that enthralled me.” ―The Evening Standard (London)
“Children will love this miniaturised adventure . . . it's set to be a giant hit.” ―The Herald (England)
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One of the first scenes with Zab and the little people he is trying to drown them for fun. The author describes how the older girl struggling underwater until she can scarcely hold her breath any longer and the toddler is screaming and struggling in the water because she cannot swim, all while Zab is laughing at them. Later he puts them in R/C cars and rams them in the wall and the older girl's head is slammed into the windshield. Then there is a scene where he buries them up to their neck in sand so they can't move (reminiscent of POW torture). The final straw for me was when Zab encloses the older brother and a wasp in a jar with no breathing holes so they can fight, all while Zab chants "killer, killer, killer" in Groilish.
There were other instances of torture and abuse in between as well. I simply could not stomach anymore of it nor could I continue to subject my children to it. I sincerely wish I'd never read it to them or would have stopped sooner when other red flags came up. I kept hoping that somehow the author would "make it right" and that there would be some redeeming quality but after making it to the halfway point and nothing is addressed and the abuse continues I knew it was time for ME to stop address it with my kids. I had to explain that what Zab was doing is not "normal" boy (or girl, or human) behavior and that there is something very wrong with him. Taking pleasure in attempting to kill other living things (in this case human beings) is sadistic and disturbing beyond words and to put such things into a children's book aimed at elementary age kids takes it to another level of depravity. What is a 2nd, 3rd , or 4th grader who might be reading this book on their own supposed to do with those images? It doesn't matter to me that it might get better in the end, its not worth it.
This is a fun story with the added challenge of a make-believe giant language to decode. (A dictionary is included.) The story does get a little scary when Jumbeelia's brother captures the Jones children and mistreats them, but this shouldn't be enough to put most children off. In addition, this story may lead readers to contemplate sibling relationships, treatment of smaller, helpless creatures, and whether there may be truth in legends.