What do you do when a Giant escapes out of a painting? Evan and his grandmother are faced with this dilemma late one night after hearing a loud thump and seeing a set of very strange footprints leading away from the house. After a quick search, they see that the giant is missing out of a favorite painting that hangs on the living room wall. They do the only thing they can think of and take the painting (minus the giant) to the artist who created it. Once there, they find a frazzled artist trying to keep his peculiar dreams from coming to life. A hilarious concept paired with hilarious watercolor illustrations make The Giant an adventure to remember. This is great tool for teachers trying to promote imagination.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4Truly an off-the-wall premise. While visiting his grandmother, Evan discovers that a giant has jumped off the canvas of a painting in the living room and run away. The boy and his grandmother contact the artist, who explains that objects he dreams about, such as the giant, become real; when he paints them into his pictures, they supposedly disappear. Evan discovers the flaw that allows the creations to escape from the paintings and eventually the "real" giant fades away. Visual representations of the artist's other creations appear throughout the book: a five-foot tall pigeon, a giant frog, and a banana man in jogging shoes. While certainly imaginative, the story line is flat and uninvolving. None of the characters comes to life, and the adventures aren't well developed. There are some great possibilities here that just aren't realized. Smith's realistic paintings will spark readers' imaginations, however, particularly the eerie picture showing Evan in front of a barn with a huge eye peering out of a top window and another of the giant's headless, armless, and footless body sitting in a corner of the barn. The art is arresting, but the story is limp.Judith Gloyer, Milwaukee Public Library
The giant in the painting in Mrs. Bell's living room is so realistic he looks "quite ready to jump off the canvas onto Mrs. Bell's carpet." And that's exactly what he does. It seems the artist has a way of dreaming up strange creatures, and the only way to get rid of them is to paint them into canvases; however, when he takes artistic license (e.g., making the giant's plain brown overalls purple striped), his creations have a way out. In this case, Mrs. Bell finds the giant in the artist's barn, filling it from floor to rafters, its enormous eye peering out the hayloft window. As the artist paints him onto the canvas again, the real giant fades and dissolves. It's Mrs. Bell's grandson, Evan, who figures out the role of the artist's fanciful additions and receives a gift of a painting for his trouble. Smith's realistic watercolors provide the perfect rendering of Heller's humorous tale. The giant, sweet-faced and benign, but very large, looks suitably ready to burst off the page.