Kate Scott was kind enough to send me her earlier series of books for young readers, Spies in Disguise, which you will find reviewed on this site. I enjoyed them very much and it was a pleasure to receive her latest book, Giant.
Giant is not in the Spies in Disguise series but is none the worse for that. It’s an altogether more thoughtful book than its predecessors, telling as it does, the story of Anzo, a young man who is deeply distressed by the fact that he is so short that his drama teacher casts him as all seven dwarves in the school play. As with Spies in Disguise, there is humour here, but it is humour that is laced with sadness and for those of us who never fitted in at school, a sense of recognition for Anzo’s plight.
The story is told from Anzo’s point of view and we see how hard it is for him in a family of extroverts, a school full of regular sized people and teachers who are unwittingly patronising and adding to Anzo’s problems. This is before we get to the inevitable fact that Anzo is being bullied.
Anzo believes that all his problems would be solved if only he were taller. His friend Elise, a girl who wants to be a therapist when she grows up, suggests that Anzo tries the power of positive thinking. He’s not convinced, but decides in a moment of desperation to give it a go. Much to his amazement it seems to work, except that what he hoped would happen when he was taller, doesn’t happen at all.
Anzo has to find a way to be himself, short or tall, and this book is his journey to that awareness. It’s sweet, and at times rather poignant. It’s funny and sad, and it really struck a chord with the child me who knows exactly what it feels like to be Anzo.
A perfect read for eights and ups. It would be a particularly good addition in school libraries and for any teacher trying to find a book that tackles the subject of fitting in. It reminded me a little of Wonder, but perhaps for slightly younger readers.