Giants Beware! Book Poster Image

Giants Beware!

Fabulous medieval fairy tale with mighty girl heroine.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Not explicitly educational, but kids might want to learn more about the medieval times the story is set in, and they'll be introduced to terms like "roulade" and "ballad."

Positive messages

While there's some deception, trickery, and comic bloodthirsty behavior involved in the kids' adventure, the ideas that violence doesn't solve problems, that kindness and respect gain more than threats, and that working together is better than going it alone are the ultimate messages. Also, the idea that seeking fame for fame's sake is an empty endeavor is explicitly stated and learned. Upends traditional fairy tale gender roles. Some talking back to adults.

Positive role models

Claudette is incredibly brave and highly motivated, but that leads her to deceive her friends, though she ultimately learns her lesson. She's an unconventional female star of a fairy tale, with short hair, questionable hygiene, and massive bravado. Her brother is more interested in baking that fighting, but he shows bravery when put to the test. And Marie, the princess wanna-be, shows herself to be smart, resourceful, and able to stand up to bullies effortlessly.

Violence & scariness

Several villains are creepy -- the Apple Hag, who captures and tries to cook the kids; the Mad River King, who tries to marry Marie to his fishy son; and a razor-toothed barracuda. And the story centers on a quest to kill the giant who legend says likes to eat baby feet. One scene shows a skeleton. Claudette's father tells of being mauled by an animal and losing his legs and an arm (he wears a prosthetic arm). The kids enter the "Forest of Death," and an adult calls the kids' quest a "suicide mission."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Giants Beware! is a fantastic graphic novel that twists traditional fairy tale gender roles in a smart, funny way. Some peril and a few creepy concepts, like a legendary giant who likes to eat baby feet, along with a few edgy images, like a razor-toothed barracuda, might turn off younger or more sensitive kids. But the lighthearted tone should ease most younger elementary-age kids into the action. Some brief potty humor and a few iffy words, like "butt," and "hag," will thrill young kids, but might make some parents uncomfortable.

Kids say

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What's the story?

After hearing the legend of the baby-feet-eating giant that has plagued her medieval French village, the over-eager Claudette vows to hunt down the beast and slay it. She tricks her brother -- the timid young foodie Gaston -- and her best friend -- the princess wanna-be Marie -- into joining her on the quest. Along the way, they meet a grabby tree, a scary hag who threatens to cook the kids alive, and an angry river god who tries to trap Marie into marrying his fish-faced son. Each character is tested and finds his or her inner strength, but will they have the mettle to challenge the giant?

Is it any good?


GIANTS BEWARE is written and illustrated by veterans of the kids' TV and animation industry, whose experience shows in the quick humor and colorful, cartoony illustrations. Kids will enjoy the expressive way the characters are drawn, as well as the hilarious dialogue and unique villains. Parents, too, will find laughs in a few of the clever jokes targeted at them. ("Somebody ended their sentence with a preposition!" says the princess-in-training as she corrects death-threat signage.)

But the greatest aspect of the lengthy comic is the clever way it inserts positive messages about the value of kindness and the importance of friendship into a traditional knight's quest framework. Also, it flips the stereotypical fairy tale roles of brave knight and helpless princess by making the bravest character a young redheaded girl and the pretty princess a smart and savvy young lady.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about fairy tales. Who is usually the star in fairy tales? How is this story different? Which are your favorite fairy tales?

  • Kids: Did you think Claudette was a boy at first? What made you think that?

  • How are girls usually portrayed in picture books, movies, and on TV?

Book details

Author:Jorge Aguirre
Illustrator:Rafael Rosado
Genre:Fairy Tale
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Great girl role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:First Second
Publication date:April 10, 2012
Number of pages:208
Publisher's recommended age(s):7 - 12
Available on:Paperback

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Educator and Parent of a 5 and 7 year old Written byBookNerdMom August 19, 2013

A fantastic choice for young graphic novel fans.

My 5 & 7 year-old daughters love this book, in a cart-it-with-them-everywhere-we-go kind of way. Four key elements draw them in. First, the pace moves along quickly, and their interest as readers never flags. Second, the humour is frequent and edgy (by first grade standards). I spent a week hearing "I'm going to kick your ever-loving butt!" followed by peels of laughter. Third, the characters are interesting and grow. They have flaws, and learn from their experiences (this also makes for great reading coversations). Fourth, the images are well-drawn and in colour. While we read many other things, both my daughters have heartily embraced graphic novels. Giants Beware is a great pick for fans of Amulet and Zita the Space Girl. I only wish there were more graphic novels for the younger set of comparable quality.
What other families should know
Great role models