Read of the Week

Jess Bosworth Smith of Oranjezicht.

The Straw Giant and The Crow

Jess Bosworth Smith

Imagnary House

Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

It took me a while to pluck up the courage to take this book home to my children. When I first read it I had to put it aside for a while to digest.

The story is quite sad and somewhat intense and I wasn’t sure if I should to expose my children to it.

The book is about a very grumpy monster made of straw. His less than charming personality drives the other critters in the area away until a rather wise crow comes and stays. The crow manages to strike up a strange and distant friendship with the giant but when tragedy strikes, the monster makes a scary and shocking decision.

The story is very sad and lonely and while there are a great many writers who tackle less than pleasant subjects in children’s stories, they usually add a good serving of silver linings and touches of humour to lighten the blows.

This book breaks that mould. The ratio of dark to cheery is heavily in favour of the dreary.

Eventually, I braved taking it home to my children. My 12-year-old eldest snatched it up and read it to her sisters.

“I like this book,” she announced, to my astonishment.

Her eight- and six-year-old sisters gave less than convincing assents but could not tell me why.

“What did you think of the ending?” I tentatively asked. “It’s nice but sad,” she said.

“What happens in the end?” I asked clutching a last hope that maybe she didn’t understand it, after all, the book is told mostly through pictures and a lot is implied but not stated.

She confidently replied: “The giant sacrifices himself to save the crow.”

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