Boy Soup or When Giant Caught

ISBN: 0130811467

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Children`s Books
by Silvana Bartlett

Hmmm. This seems to be a new variation of that old family favourite Stone Soup. Let's see where this new recipe leads. The protagonist is of the genus giant, who as a group have traditionally been depicted as rather predatory creatures. Our giant is so sick his cough can literally move mountains. Boy Soup is the remedy prescribed for his condition in his copy of the Giant's Home Medical Guide. Although he feels momentary guilt-pangs, the giant's predatory nature quickly wins out. He captures the half-dozen boys required for the recipe-and Kate as well. Kate ingeniously rescues the boys from their hideous fate by obscuring the original text of the recipe and convincing the giant the recipe should be re-interpreted to read "made by boys". The boys show their spirit by concocting a really gruesome soup (graphic details in book), which tastes so terrible that the giant spits it out with enough vehemence to blow the children safely back home.

But guess what-our boys really enjoyed their creative romp in the giant's kitchen. Now they and Kate run a diner called "The Boys' Restaurant", and an enlightened and reformed giant writes Kate a thank-you note.

The illustrations graphically display the misery of the blotchy-nosed giant, almost grandfatherly in his cardigan and scarf, except for his grotesque proportions. Loris Lesynski has obviously had fun turning stereotypes on their heads-girls can show leadership, giants can be sick and vulnerable (and mannerly)-and I had fun reading it too, despite the occasional whiff of didactic political correctness.

It is written in a brisk verse style which just trots along. Here is a book meant to be read aloud dramatically and chuckled over at the end. You must feel comfortable with the poetic rhythms to enjoy it; contrary to popular belief, many children actively dislike verse, and can sense when the choice of rhyme and metre as a medium is gratuitous. Sometimes good prose works just as well.

Nevertheless, this is in many ways a delightful effort. It is not absolutely top quality, but certainly better than average. l

Silvana DiFonzo Bartlett teaches French and is an avid collector of the Flicka-Ricka-Dicka children's books


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