Review Blog

May 26 2020

The giant and the sea by Trent Jamieson

cover image

Illus. by Rovina Cai. Hachette, 2020. ISBN: 9780734418876.
(Age: All) Highly recommended. This eye-catching large format picture book will not be left long on the shelves. A giant peers down at the young girl in the bottom right hand corner of the cover, watching what she will do. She is not telling her anything but from her expression, her shaded eyes, the down turned mouth, the plea is there and once opening the book readers will see what her plea is about. The words, 'the sea is rising' are repeated through the book, firstly to make the child aware of the danger which will engulf them all when the sea does rise, and then repeated by the child as she tries to warn others of the dangers the giant has predicted, and again at the end when the words come full circle, the situation no different than before.
A fable for the modern reader, the book promotes discussion about climate change, of standing up for what you believe in, of the possibility of hope.
The giant tells the child that the reason for the seas rising is the machine and tells her to get the people in the city to shut it down. But they are adamant that the machine is of great benefit, and feelings are polarised, so much so that people with banners march on the giant, telling her to go away. When the seas do rise, it is the giant that comes and saves the girl and her family along with some others from the town. They rebuild their town on higher ground and the giant keeps watching the sea until one day she tells a young boy on the shore, 'the sea is rising'.
And so the cycle starts again. Children will come to see that change needs to happen for the seas not to rise, and be aware that strength is needed to overcome the doubters.
The strong illustrative technique of Rovina Cai will excite the readers. The mix of graphite, crayon resist and wash means I wanted to touch each page, feel the child's hair, touch the rising sea, feel the power of the machines undermining the town. The gothic power of her drawings sweep across the pages, taking the eye with them as the water rises, the machines steam and whirr, the people stampede towards the giant, while her sparing use of colour adds texture and passion to her atmospheric pages. Themes: Climate change, Environment, Prediction, Future, Inundation.
Fran Knight

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