Announcing my new illustrated children story's key element: giants!  It's going to be a story inspired by and written for my youngest child. I don't know the characters or premise yet, just that at least one character will be a giant. I'm also going to attempt illustrating. I'm terrified of the outcome, but I won't improve unless I practice. Here's my first practice piece. I sat down with the intention to create something with a giant's something-ness. IPad doodling I suppose. It was actually a lot of fun! I realize I lack training, knowledge, know-how and experience, but I've got to start somewhere!

I think certain giant stories and ideas have been overdone, so I'm doing some research. I want to discover what's been done, what works, what doesn't and why. In my community's many libraries, there was an abundance of Jack and the Beanstalk re-tellings, and even a spin on it from his sister's perspective. Boy oh boy has that one been done. There's also a tale from Ireland that I found many versions of, but I'm not familiar with it, so I want to read a few and find out why it's been copied so many times. Those two seemed to dominate the giant themed books.

I chose one that I was hopeful to be unique to read before I left the library.

It's a book called Mangaboom, by Charlotte Pomerantz and pictures are by Anita Lobel. At first glance I thought the illustrations were playful and inviting, but I was hesitant at the length of the text. I was also concerned when Mangaboom said, among other things, that she spoke Spanish and English, and the little boy said he knew a few words in Spanish. I was afraid this promising story was going to turn out to be a language lesson.

When I began reading, the story was intriguing and the characters were charming. The languages did not detract from the story, but added to it in a welcoming manner. Mangaboom, the lady-giant, lives in the top of a mango tree. A boy happens upon her. They become fast friends. He is an honored guest as she receives love letters and is set up with eligible giants by her aunt. He is a witness to a true lady finding love. A beloved, who loves her for all she is. The story is charming, witty, and I was gently taught by Mangaboom what a lady is. This story is a gem among giants.

What Works:

The lady-giant seems normal and mostly because she believes she's great the way she is, and it's not preachy or overbearing

Each character has a distinct voice; the lady, the boy, the over-bearing aunt, the unworthy eligibles, and the Romeo

Colorful, inviting, fitting illustration without the perfect angles, perspectives, planes...per my sister who I asked what the proper vocabulary is. Apparently I need to learn more about this! I loved the playful imperfection!

There wasn't any danger! It seems giants are usually deemed dangerous, and why wouldn't they be? If a giants were angered, they could certainly squash us poor tiny folks. This was just a story whose characters happened to be giants. Very neat.

What Doesn't Work:

Mangaboom likes to "skinny-dip and turn cartwheels on the beach". While it gives insight to her character, and it's hilarious to think about, I'm undecided as to whether it's appropriate for a children's book to refer to skinny-dipping. Hehe! I'm still giggling.

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