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The Mysterious Giant of Barletta by Tomie…
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The Mysterious Giant of Barletta

by Tomie dePaola

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I had mixed feelings about this book. First, I enjoyed the pictures of historic Italy. The pictures provided authentic details (such as the style of architecture and dress that existed at the time). I also enjoyed how DePaola included Italian words in his writing. For example, the author writes, "Zia Concetta would open her window and call, Buona notte, Colosso--good night, Big One." Incorporating Italian words into the story allows the reader to connect with the Italian origins of this folktale.

However, I did find the story's pacing to be rather lacking. The author spent more time describing the statue's daily life then having the statue solve the problem in the story. For example, in the beginning, DePaola writes that, "Good weather and bad, the mysterious Giant stood there. the people of Barletta loved having the statue in their town." Then, the author continues with 6 more examples of why the people of Barletta loved having the statue around. I found myself skimming this section because it did not hold my attention.

Overall, however, I did enjoy DePaola's adaptation of this Italian folktale. The book's bigger message is that faith in one's community will triumph over all. This theme is explored fully when the Giant (who represents the town's values and customs) protects Barletta by outwitting an invading army ( )
  ElanaRubinstein | Feb 9, 2016 |
In Barletta, there is a large stone statue of a boy. When war comes to the town, all the people leave except Zia Concetta and the statue, which she wishes to life in order to aid in the protection of the town. They make plans to defeat the army, surprising us with their smart choices and peaceful means.

This is a great, longish read-aloud, that focuses on peaceful and intelligent choices in conflict. This would be great in a folktales unit, world history or as a simple choice read-aloud. Discussions and predictions during the reading would enhance the experience. ( )
  JusticeEvans | Mar 18, 2012 |
This is the story of Zia Concetta, the oldest wise woman in Barletta, a small coastal town in Italy, who must bring her wits to blossom when the town is threatened by marauders. She turns to the mysterious giant statue of a boy that has seemingly always graced the town square. No one knows who built the statue or how long it has been there. Together the too set things right and restore peace to the townspeople.

In classic Tomie De Paola style, the author and illustrator engages his readers with expert storytelling, building up mystery and suspense and, with just the right amount of magic, setting things right in a most satisfyling way. As always, De Paola's bright, delightful illustrations perfectly complement this classic folktale. ( )
  ShellyCBuchanan | Apr 10, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0152563490, Paperback)

An eleventh-century legend about a mysterious giant. “The illustrations are among dePaola’s best: rigorous line and expressive movement against an atmospheric background of rich golds, blues, and reds.”--The Bulletin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:21 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The giant statue that has always stood in front of the Church of San Sepolcro in Barletta is called upon to save the town from an army of a thousand men that is destroying all the towns and cities along the lower Adriatic coast.

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