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The Giant-Slayer by Iain Lawrence

The Giant-Slayer

by Iain Lawrence

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My 9 year old is one of those kids who gulps down books--sometimes I'm not sure she digests much, let alone even tastes them, before she's off to the next. But when she finished Giant-Slayer, she came to me in tears, and told me I had to read it.

I'm so glad I did. This is genuinely moving, and pulls you equally into both threads of the story, so that once they start getting mysteriously tangled, you're caught too. ( )
  MelissaZD | Jan 1, 2014 |
I read this book after a recommendation by Book Passage in Corte Madera, California. The book is about a girl named Laurie who grows up in the 1950s during an epidemic of Polio before the invention of the first polio vaccine. She is a compassionate friend to Dickie, a childhood buddy of hers whose condition of polio worsens. The mythology woven throughout the book is well-done, and helps to lift the reader to a hopeful note, despite the grittier elements of the story.

I especially recommend this book to anyone who has a child with an illness, or a sensitive child who is concerned for a friend. Definitely give the book a try. ( )
  Breton07 | Aug 17, 2012 |
A spellbinding story within a story. Fantasy and reality meet here and Lawrence blends them so magically. ( )
  StJohnBrebeuf | Dec 7, 2010 |
I really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to hear my nine year olds opinion. It was a great way to learn about a terrible disease and I am not sure whether I enjoyed the parts in reality or fantasy more. Well written. I did show my daughter a picture of a child in an iron lung prior to her reading it so that she would have an easier time envisioning it. ( )
  delmas_coulee | Mar 16, 2010 |
In 1950, polio was the big scare. No one was sure how you contracted it and how to cure it. Although the immunization was soon developed, there were many people who contracted it, some of whom recovered, some of whom died and some of whom were confined to iron lungs to help them breathe.

And so it is that twelve year Laurie’s best (and only) friend Dickie gets polio, presumably from swimming in the local creek. Laurie’s father is a fund raiser for March of Dimes, an organization whose purpose is to fund research and medical care for polio victims. He knows when it is and isn’t contagious, but he’d be upset if he knew Laurie was visiting Dickie and his two roommates, Chip and Carolyn, in the hospital.

Dickie is always upbeat. Chip is neither upbeat nor depressed. Carolyn hates the world. She’s been stuck in her iron lung for eight years, her parents gradually decreasing their visits and ultimately moving away. Laurie was always a good story teller and to pass the time, she begins telling her friends a story.

Once upon a time, there was a giant named Colossus who terrorized the countryside. You cannot imagine how big he is. He is huge. One evening, in a horrible thunder storm, during a crack of thunder, Jimmy is born to an innkeeper and his wife. At that exact moment, Colossus has an uneasy feeling. He knows that when Jimmy grows up, he will come looking to kill the giant. As the son of an innkeeper, Jimmy hears stories from the travelers stopping at the inn: hunters, minstrels, and traders and is fascinated by them. The only problem with Jimmy traveling to slay the giant is that Jimmy is less than three feet tall, and due to a Wishman’s spell cast on him, he will grow no taller. How can a three foot tall boy kill and huge giant?

I’ve always liked Iain Lawrence. His teen books, B is for Buster, Gemini Summer and The Lightkeeper’s Daughter are wonderful reads. The Giant-Slayer is the first book of his that I’ve read for middle schoolers and it’s a delight. The story is a great story full of monsters and dragons and witches and gypsies. The descriptions of the countryside and the giant and the characters (both real and imaginary) are vivid, enabling you to picture them. The stories of Dickie and Chip and Carolyn emerge as Laurie continues her tale. There are some surprises along the way. You might learn a little something about the 1950s while you’re reading the book. But, don’t let that stop you. The Giant-Slayer is a giant sized tale. ( )
  EdGoldberg | Feb 22, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iain Lawrenceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Toren, SuzanneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385733763, Hardcover)

A girl’s imagination transports polio-afflicted kids into a fantastic world.

The spring of 1955 tests Laurie Valentine’s gifts as a storyteller. After her friend Dickie contracts polio and finds himself confined to an iron lung, Laurie visits him in the hospital. There she meets Carolyn and Chip, two other kids trapped inside the breathing machines. Laurie’s first impulse is to flee, but Dickie begs her to tell them a story. And so Laurie begins her tale of Collosso, a rampaging giant, and Jimmy, a tiny boy whose destiny is to become a slayer of giants.

As Laurie embellishes her tale with gnomes, unicorns, gryphons, and other fanciful creatures, Dickie comes to believe that he is a character in her story. Little by little Carolyn, Chip, and other kids who come to listen, recognize counterparts as well. Laurie’s tale is so powerful that when she’s prevented from continuing it, Dickie, Carolyn, and Chip take turns as narrators. Each helps bring the story of Collosso and Jimmy to an end—changing the lives of those in the polio ward in startling ways.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When her eight-year-old neighbor is stricken with polio in 1955, eleven-year-old Laurie discovers that there is power in her imagination as she weaves a story during her visits with him and other patients confined to iron lung machines.

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