Giants Beware!

Giants Beware!Giants Beware!
Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre
First Second
Softcover, 7 x 10, 208 pages, Full Color, $14.99

One of my most enjoyable writing endeavors this column is now in its second year. That said, as I write this month's column I worry that some readers might have started to put a very simple equation together. More often than not, two and two do indeed equal four. And because they do I was hesitant to write another review for First Second Books. In short, Katie Monnin and First Second Books do indeed equal a favorable review. Despite my hesitation to write yet another positive review for First Second Books, however, I just can't help myself. A leader of high-quality graphic novels for students and adults alike First Second Books continuously produces darn good graphic novels.  

Lured into Giants Beware! by its adorable cover art I originally picked it up just to read it for myself. As I read, however, I quickly realized that this graphic novel belonged in every elementary and middle school classroom and library. The art is endearingly engaging. The story is clever and fun.  

Claudette is a unique child with a vivid imagination. In fact, when we first meet her she is interrupting Pascal - a wise, older sage in the town – as he tells a legendary and, from Claudette's perspective, boring story about why the town has an extremely tall exterior wall. Entitled "The Baby-Feet-Eating Giant" Pascal's story doesn't impress Claudette. If she were to meet The Baby-Feet-Eating Giant she would have, instead of building a wall, "killed that no good baby-feet-eating monster!"

Is Pascal telling the story accurately? Are Claudette's suspicions about The Baby-Feet-Eating Giant valid? What is the real story? Packed with adventure and characters that will charm any aged reader, Giants Beware! is a fun-filled and adventurous read for all.  

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Claudette simply isn't buying it, the legendary tale of how the Marquis De Mont Petit Pierre defeated "The Baby-Feet-Eating Giant" by building a tall exterior wall around her small town.

the interior of the town Mont Petit Pierre, and the unknown beyond the town wall built by the town’s Marquis

Major Characters:
Pascal, Claudette, The Baby-Feet-Eating Giant, the Marquis De Mont Petit Pierre, Valiant, Marie, Gaston, Zubair, the Marquis’ wife and Marie’s mother, Sergio, Poppa, Don Diego, Leo, townsmen and women, the Apple Hag, the Mad River King, the River Prince, Barry Barracuda, Minu

Adventure, Friendship, Loyalty, Literal and Figurative, Tall Tale, Legends and Myths, Fact and Fiction

Literature Pairing Suggestions:
Aesop's Fables by Aesop, Bone by Jeff Smith, Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi, Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Holes by Louis Sachar, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, any or all of The Arthur Trilogy by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Some Teaching Recommendations For Middle Level Readers

Suggested Alignment to the IRA /NCTE Standard(s):
- standard #s correspond to the numbers used by IRA/NCTE

1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment.  Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.  

2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.

3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate texts.

Suggested Reading Lesson Plan for Middle Level Teachers and Librarians:

Ask students to work through the following graphic organizer as a class (Figure 1).

Figure 1:
A graphic organizer for students reading Giants Beware!.    


Step 1:


Step 2:

 During Reading
(pages 1 – 100)

Step 3:

During Reading Contd.
(pages 101 – 202)

Step 4:

 After Reading

 What do we know about myths and legends?





 What do we know about Claudette (the main character)?





What do we know about Claudette’s friend Marie?





What do we know about Claudette’s little brother Gaston?





Next, with these four questions and their answers in mind, challenge students to illustrate their reading comprehension growth about each character over time.

Be prepared to give students either a blank sheet of paper (for them to create their own reading comprehension growth chart), or a new and blank handout of Figure 1.  While some students will want a familiar structure to help them complete this illustrative task other students may have their own, unique ideas in mind for illustrating their reading comprehension growth.

Finally, encourage students to share and discuss their illustrated reading comprehension growth charts with each other.   

Katie Monnin, PhD, is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida and author of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) from Maupin House. To learn more about Teaching Graphic Novels or Katie Monnin, please go to this link: http://www.maupinhouse.com/monnin.php.