The Giants and the Joneses, by Julia Donaldson, pictures by Greg Swearingen, 224pp RL 3

I first ran this review in 2008! It's been getting a lot of hits lately and, over the last few years I have become a huge fan of Julia Donaldson's brilliant picture books, so I thought I'd post this again for those of you who haven't heard of this book or her other works.

  Giants and the Joneses

Julia Donaldson may be known to you as the writer of the wonderful rhyming picture books, The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child, The Snail and the Whale and Room on the Broom, all illstrated by Axel Scheffler. She definitely has a love of language and it shows again in her chapter book, The Giants and the Jonses with the onomatopoetic creation of the language of the giants, Groilish, dictionary included in the back of the book. The Giants of the story live in the land of Groil with a bimplestonk (beanstalk) growing at its outer limits, an area that is patrolled by a doddering old Giant who claims he once had his treasures stolen by an iggly plop (little human) who climbed up and robbed him blind.

Donaldson cleverly and quietly weaves the story of "Jack and the Beanstalk" into her book, but her most creative aspect of the story is the collecting nature of the two main characters. Jumbeelia, the Giant, has piles and piles of things strewn about her room, much to the annoyance of her mother, as does the iggly plop, Collette. Donaldson's decriptions of their collections are wonderful, as is the determination and intensity with which these two collect. When Jumbeelia discovers the bimplestonk, she slips down and enters a world full of collectibles, the best of which are the Jones children, Stephen, Colette and thier baby sister Poppy. She quickly stows them in her bag, along with some lawn furniture, pillows and a sheep and returns home where the real adventure begins.

Although this is a relatively short book, Donaldson manages to pack a lot in. From the difficult sibling relationships of Stpehen and Collette and Jumbeelia and her brother Zab, tormentor of the iggly plops, to the seamless weaving of Goilish throughout the text, there is a lot to keep the reader interested. Placed in her dollhouse and played with for a time, the Joneses get along well, initially, but, when Collette recognizes in Jumbeelia and herself the symptom of a casual collector - boredom - she begins to fear for their safety. This is especially so after Zab gets ahold of the Joneses and uses them as action figures. Used to fighting and disregarding each other, Stephen and Collette learn to work together to escape the land of Groil, dodging the old giant with the grudge against iggly plops, and angry cat and other dangers to return home to their parents.

This is a rare book that is both wonderfully and simply written for lower reading levels. The Groilish language has such syntactical sense that the reader almost immediately catches on to it - which is an added feeling of success for new readers. It also works superbly as a read aloud - kids will delight in hearing adults read the silly words that make up the Groilish language.

A few of the many, fantastic picture books by Julia Donaldson!

The GruffaloThe Gruffalo's Child
The Snail and the Whale Charlie Cook's Favorite Book

 The Spiffiest Giant in TownWhere's My Mom?

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