18th January '18
If you search for Giant to purchase or read reviews about it, you'll find it's often accompanied by the phrase 'A feel-good story children's book about growing up and being yourself.'
But to me, it's even more than that.
We meet Anzo at the beginning: an overlooked despondent, reticent Year 6 boy harboured by his own experiences of home and school life, in which he's often ignored or teased or both. Throughout the story, however, we discover Anzo's inner voice and uncover his true passions, what makes him tick and what makes him him. By the end, fittingly, he's grown both literally and figuratively in every sense of the word.
And that’s just Anzo.
Wait until you meet his usually erratic and rambunctious family – Mum, Dad, Uncle Talbert and Uncle Miles – who are more invested in restoring their house for their new restaurant (which explains a lot as to why Anzo initially feels the way he does) than recognising Anzo and his achievements. Fortunately for them, they realise what they've been missing out on just in time.
As for his best friend Elise (an old-head-on-young-shoulders), she is the friend we all wish to have and what we all need. A future therapist, she's read every book, manual and how-to-guide cover-to-cover on modern psychology and subsequently instils Anzo in to the now very much current way of The Power of Positive Thinking. This, however, can only help him so far...
Readers, particularly of older primary school ages, may identify and relate to some of Anzo’s experiences of being teased at school and generally just not quite 'fitting in'. But they will definitely connect to Anzo (like I did!) and learn that life is not necessarily about fitting in but finding your own way and in fact, sometimes, standing out. Standing out for the right reasons in acknowledging and nurturing what you already have, not what you want or in this case, what you think or wish you want.
Giant packs in big, strong, heartfelt messages in sincere, thought-provoking paragraphs as a result of Kate's eloquent, touching and poignant style of writing which will be welcomed in classrooms, schools and homes across the country.
Kate's writing is also complemented and visually characterised by comic-book style illustrations from Alexandra Gunn, that will greatly appeal to readers in which we peer into's Anzo imagination where he takes inspiration from his real-life everyday battles with bullies, using these experiences as a form of escapism in to the cartoon world through the character of Giant.
If I were to sum Giant up, it's such a refreshingly charismatic read that promotes empathy, confidence-building and overcoming insecurities so well. It will have you really feeling deeply for Anzo (some of the time); laughing out loud (most of the time); and will really prove that good things do come in small – and tall – packages (all of the time!).
A totally transformative tale to read, and read aloud, to help readers truly think and feel what it's like to be others.
If you want to help to not only teach but to also nurture the morals, values and emotions of the children in your class, then I highly recommend that you read this book to them.
Perfect for Year 4 & Year 5 (& comic-book fans!).