Julia Donaldson,
The Giants & the Joneses
(Henry Holt & Co., 2005)

Jumbeelia's favorite bedtime story is the one about the iggly plop who climbed up the bimplestonk to Groil. She loves the story so much that she goes to the edge of Groil and casts a bimple into the clouds in order to grow her own bimplestonk and visit the land of the iggly plops herself.

Colette, the eldest child of the Jones family, loves to collect diverse items, from marbles to stamps to snails, but she often loses interest in her collections. Then comes the day when she finds herself -- along with her brother Stephen and sister Poppy -- collected by a giant girl. Taken to the land of the giants, Colette and her siblings have to survive giant kittens, sadistic giant boys and giant parents.

The story alternates mainly between the viewpoints of Jumbeelia and Colette, with Colette and her brother and sister struggling to find their way home. My only complaint is that I would have liked to see what happened to Stephen during the time he was separated from his sisters.

The Giants & the Joneses is a charming reverse take on "Jack & the Beanstalk" for midgrade or younger children. Full of giantisms -- my copy included a small Groilish/English dictionary -- that children will no doubt love, it also teaches a gentle lesson about collecting too much stuff. I'd love a chance to read this to my soon-to-be 6-year-old niece.

by Laurie Thayer
23 September 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.