CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 16 . . . . April 13, 2001
With the sun setting behind a mountain, the goat, the boy and the baby curled up and fell asleep.This original folktale immediate places children in familiar territory. Beginning with "a long time ago," the story tells of a young boy going off to Grandma's and being warned not to lose his way. The similarities with Red Riding Hood end there, as the boy is accompanied by his goat and is never in any danger. Of course, he does get lost, encountering mysterious objects along the way which he places in the little cart his goat pulls. When he happens upon a distraught baby giant, his fear of giants is outweighed by his sympathy for the baby. He decides to use his newfound treasures (actually the baby's lost belongings) to make it more comfortable, wearing himself out in the process. When the mother giant later discovers all three sleeping, she gently places the boy and goat back in the land of humans where they easily find their way to Grandma's house by suppertime.
Ruth Ohi's cheerful watercolours reflect the carefree mood of the text. She continually shifts perspective from the initial double-page spread of the countryside dotted with human figures, to the small boy next to his larger parents, to the gradual increase in size of the flora and fauna, and finally to the boy's toy-like appearance next to the giant baby. This relative size is effectively reinforced by fold-up pages to picture the giant mother. While this approach does have the intended effect, it unfortunately reduces the shelf life of the book in schools and libraries.
Hutchins' underlying message of love and acceptance will strike an essential chord with young children. The giant baby has universal appeal both in endearing illustrations and amusing babytalk. However, while the story is imaginative, the text is an undramatic recounting of events. More suited to bedtime than story time, this is a book to share with a little person while snuggled up under the covers.
Alison Mews is the Director of the Curriculum Materials Centre at the Faculty of Education, Memorial University of NF, St. John's NF.
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