Tall tales of gigantic folk

23rd March 2001 at 00:00
Eric Pringle's Big George (Bloomsbury Children's Books pound;7.99, illustrated by Colin Paine) has strong echoes of Ted Hughes' The Iron Giant. George, 40 feet tall, lands in post-Norman-Conquest England in 1103, after travelling for more than 900 years through space from the constellation Ursa Middling.

With blue and green hair and a giraffe-like neck, George is misunderstood by most humans, but befriended by Tilly, who is desperate to escape from an arranged marriage to the stinking Bones Lousewort, son of a baron.

Pringle's narrative is light and pithy and in a cleve twist he links with myth, persuading the reader that this hilarious tale could easily be another take on the legend of St George and the Dragon.

In another story of large beings, suitable for newly independent readers, Kaye Umansky's The Dressed-Up Giant (Puffin pound;3.99) continues the warming, uplifting tale of Waldo and his neighbour Hetty. The giants have been invited to a wedding and the resulting tiff over what each should wear provides much amusement. Umansky's deft style and assured humour is well served by Doffy Weir's characterful and lively drawings.

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