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This is not a gentle bedtime story. Rather, it is an exciting adventure with violence (almost) worthy of the Grimms. I read it with my (then) 7 year old and there were gasps and tears in a couple of places, and I was a bit surprised at some of the peril the human children found themselves in as toys of the giant girl Jumbelia. This is not to say that it's inherently a problem, but it is perhaps better as a shared read for younger or more sensitive readers. To be honest, it's probably more of a statement about how sanitised many kids' stories have become, and it's certainly true that the violence in this story is easily matched by many cartoons, but somehow it is more surprising enacted on human characters in a book.
The story features an invented language for the giants, with a glossary at the back. (Although for us, reading on a Kindle, we didn't really see this until the end.) Most of the words are guessable in context anyway, and when there are whole songs or sayings in the giant language, the English translation is given in the main text. This language is fun, playful and inventive, and I'm sure most child readers will bring some of the giants' words into their play as my daughter did.
For all the excitement and adventure, there is a moral core to this story which encourages children to think before making pets or toys of wild creatures. Children will not experience this as moralising, but they will absorb the messages about how the children are treated by Jumbelia, who doesn't mean them any harm, but also doesn't quite see them as living creatures who can be hurt.
Overall, I'd recommend this for fans of Donaldson's picture books who are ready to move onto chapter books at bedtime. For the more delicate among them, though, her Princess Mirror-Belle adventures might be more suitable.
I am reading this book to my six year old twin daughters. They love the occasional use of 'giant language', and have amazing recall of what the words mean - but they also like looking words up in the glossary, which can make the bedtime story a bit longer than usual! You have been warned.
It's a great story, and good to read something unusual.
Brilliant book, my 6-year-old loved it and so did I. She is now proficient in Groilish, having memorised the English-Groilish and Groilish-English dictionaries at the back of the book! Probably good for wide age range.