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My 7-year old daughter checked this book out at her school library and it quickly became her constant companion. She loved the book so much that she begged us to get her own copy of it. Not only does she like the story of little people, but the characters have their own language ('Groilish'). It has inspired her to come up with her own language ('Isabel-ish').
Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2012
I just read this to my 7-year-old, and we both found it to be a charming tale filled with adventure, suspense, imagination, and creativity. My daughter couldn't wait to see what would happen next, and I found this to be a fabulous read-aloud that didn't bore me either. The giants' language was simply enough formatted for me to fully understand the meaning, and my daughter loved the Groilish-English Dictionary located at the back of the book; she's been busy learning their language and is becoming quite fluent from "bealy" and "aheesh" to "blebber" and "bimplestock"! The soft pencil illustrations are engaging rather than distracting, the chapters only 8-10 pages in length, and the words chosen by Ms. Donaldson enabled me to explain and enlarge my child's vocabulary without it feeling burdensome. This is a wonderful children's story that I give 5 stars to and encourage you to not only purchase it but to sit down and read it together with your own favorite 6-10 year olds! Delightful!
The Giants and the Joneses begins where Jack and the Beanstalk leaves off. In our time, the Giants of the land of Groil still tell the story of "Jack and the Beanstalk." But no one really believes in the "Iggly Plops" or the Little People. No one except an eight-year old giant named Jumbeelia. Jumbeelia drops a bean over the edge of Groil and the next day she climbs down a giant beanstalk where she collects a few new toys - including the three Jones children.
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.
This story is sick and disturbing. Half way through reading this book to my children I had to quit. The giant brother in the story, Zab, is a psychopath. That is not an exaggeration or hyperbole in the least, he is an absolute psychopath who takes pleasure in various forms of child abuse and human torture. I can't comprehend why this is considered an entertaining read for young children.
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 what I wish I had known about this book before reading it to my children: After the children are abducted from their home they are subjected to various tortures which include: being almost intentionally drowned in a bath and sucked down the drain, being buried in sand up to their heads and threatened with giant insects, being juggled, being forced to eat giant hot peppers, used as crash-test-dummies in a remote control car, dangled out of windows, locked in jars with giant wasps and a pin for defence, and forced to do other things. Here's a quote: "This miniature girl was the perfect victim for the experiments and tortures that he could only dream of inflicting on his life-size sister. He sqeezed her more tightly as her carried her into his room. Still smiling, he zipped her up in his gym bag..." As an adult, I found these occurences - some of which were particularly, vividly protrayed through the eyes of the tortured children - rather upsetting and it was upsetting to my children as well. We also found the constant Groilish a little annoying at times, just wishing for some plain english. It is a well written book however but may not be enjoyable or appropriate for all children. I just found it depressing if anything.