The Giant-Slayer

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Published by: Random House Delacorte
Pages: 304
ISBN13: 978-0385733762


A girl’s imagination transports polio-afflicted kids into a fantastic world. The spring of 1955 tests Laurie Valentine’s gifts as a storyteller. After her friend Dickie contracts polio and finds himself confined to an iron lung, Laurie visits him in the hospital. There she meets Carolyn and Chip, two other kids trapped inside the breathing machines. Laurie’s first impulse is to flee, but Dickie begs her to tell them a story. And so Laurie begins her tale of Collosso, a rampaging giant, and Jimmy, a tiny boy whose destiny is to become a slayer of giants. As Laurie embellishes her tale with gnomes, unicorns, gryphons, and other fanciful creatures, Dickie comes to believe that he is a character in her story. Little by little Carolyn, Chip, and other kids who come to listen, recognize counterparts as well. Laurie’s tale is so powerful that when she’s prevented from continuing it, Dickie, Carolyn, and Chip take turns as narrators. Each helps bring the story of Collosso and Jimmy to an end—changing the lives of those in the polio ward in startling ways.


“This memorable novel, a skillful combination of real life and fantasy, is by turns uplifting and saddening. Distinctive, emotionally honest characters and consistently engrossing prose make this book a standout.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Young readers who know polio solely as something they’re immunized against will not quickly forget this moving, imaginative glimpse of the not-so-long-ago past.”
—Meghan Cox Gurdon, Wall Street Journal Read 

“A master of combining wit and terror, Lawrence is a perfect writer for young adults, with a keen sense of the jagged rhythms of adolescence.”
—Denver Post  

“Despite the title, this compelling story-within-a-story is not about giant slayers, but about children with giant spirits.”

“This profound, magical, dryly comical novel reminds readers of the power of story, but they will already be feeling it in their bones. Masterful.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“…[A] wonderful exploration of the power of the imagination and of how stories shape our lives as much as our lives shape the stories that we tell.”
—The Globe and Mail Read 

“The author creates a masterful tale-within-a-tale while also shining a light on a rarely discussed era that affected tens of thousands of North American children. Most of all, he reminds us that stories have the power to carry the spirit through even the darkest days.”
—Jennifer M. Brown Shelf Awareness

“Iain Lawrence has told a memorable story that not only accurately recreates the frightening years of the polio epidemic, but creates a richly-imagined fantasy landscape where courage, love, and the magic they create can bring remarkable things to pass.”
—Provo City Library Children’s Book Review 

“…explor[es] the power of story …. and transport[s] both the characters and the readers far beyond their worlds.”
—Booklist Online

“Lawrence has composed a beautifully written book that aptly creates two different worlds.”

The American Library Association named The Giant-Slayer a “Notable Children’s Book” for 2009. According to the Notables Criteria, “notable” is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.