"A winning tale of a spunky girl who matches her wits against a giant's brawn to save her family from destitution," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Although this story is based on an amalgam of several French-Canadian contes about rich and powerful giants, as told in mining and lumbering camps, the protagonist is a wily young girl instead of a leathery voyageur. She and her mother are so poor that they are down to their last bowls of porridge, and in desperation, Beatrice decides to match wits with the local giant, who loves to gamble and has a lot of money. Secure in the knowledge that he is larger and stronger, the dimwitted giant is delighted and challenges her to outdo him in hitting a door, carrying water and throwing an iron bar. Thinking quickly and creatively, Beatrice manipulates each situation so cleverly that the giant is convinced he will lose each contest before it even begins and gives her his silver bag of gold coins as her winnings. Written with a nice storytelling rhythm, this tall tale has bright multimedia illustrations featuring a clunky giant and a sharp-faced, skinny little girl in a patched red dress against a background of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, with its pine trees, red earth, log cabins, lumberjacks and wildflowers. 2001, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $16.00. Ages 6 to 9. Reviewer: Patricia Dole
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-This tall tale from the north woods of Michigan recounts the exploits of a sassy and spirited but very poor little girl named Beatrice. She greets readers on the first page clad in a red dress and literally walks out of the illustration's frame in a way that indicates that she is clearly a heroine with whom to be reckoned. When the child asks her mother how she could earn money to improve their meager existence, her mother tells her about "A rich giant who loves to gamble on his own strength." Beatrice, to her mother's surprise, departs the next day in search of the well-heeled giant and, true to character, she brashly bets him 10 coins that she can "strike a blow harder than you." The none-too-bright man naturally laughs at the challenge by this wee girl, but agrees. After being outwitted in feats of strength no less than three times, the giant relinquishes the last of the treasure to the wily youngster whereupon Beatrice runs home, eager for her mother's warm embrace and heartfelt praise. Solomon does a commendable job of depicting the rough-hewn environs of Michigan's Upper Peninsula in evocative earth tones. Beatrice's character is particularly well rendered with her elfish yet beguiling visage. This tale is especially empowering to girls without being overtly feminist or didactic and will succeed with children because its foundation is fine storytelling.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
A clever girl's brains triumph over a giant's brawn in this folktale from the northern US. Beatrice loves mental challenges and is a fast thinker, so when her family needs money, she is confident that the solution rests with the rich giant on the other side of the woods. The spunky girl walks right up to him and offers a bet that she can strike a blow harder than he can. He takes his turn, but then Beatrice tricks him into believing that she will destroy his door if she lets her fist fly. He declares her the winner without testing her. Twice more they bet on feats of strength, and each time the giant hands over his gold without Beatrice having to prove herself-he is that fearful of the amazing strength she claims to have. And in the end, both count themselves lucky-Beatrice that her family now has money to buy food and the giant that none of the things that Beatrice boasted of have befallen him. Readers will delight in the feisty Beatrice, a wonderful female role model who will let nothing stand in her way. Willey (Thanksgiving With Me, 1998, etc.) has crafted her tale so well that the reader can almost hear it being told by a storyteller around a crackling fire. Newcomer Solomon's illustrations are a combination of watercolor backgrounds with details in collage. This style of illustrating makes the woodsy details of Northern Michigan pop out from the pages. Together, the author/illustrator team has created a heroine who proves that strength can mean much more than muscle power. (Picture book. 4-8)
From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly, starred review Clever indeed.
Horn Book, starred review A winning tale.
Kirkus Reviews Willey has crafted her tale so well that the reader can almost hear it being told by a storyteller around a crackling fire.
School Library Journal Empowering.
Booklist A good choice for story hours.