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*Where the Giant Sleeps* by Mem Fox, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky
Also by Mem Fox:

Whoever You Are
Where the Giant Sleeps
by Mem Fox, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky
Ages 3-5 32 pages Harcourt October 2007 Hardcover    

If you are looking for the perfect picture book to give to the youngest person on your holiday gift list this year, look no farther! Mem Fox, with the help of skilled illustrator Vladimir Radunsky, has created a luminously beautiful and lyrical picture book. Where the Giant Sleeps will take the reader to new worlds while challenging their imaginations and lulling them to a gentle sleep.

As we open the picture book, we are greeted by a sleeping child. Is this entire book just a dream? Is it real? Is it all a trip to an imaginary place of giants, fairies, wizards and goblins? In fact, the very first page presents us with a unique “island” in the middle of the sea. The reader (and any young listener who is interacting with the pictures on the page) is intrigued by the island, which also looks like a sleeping giant. The text tells us it is a giant: “This is where the giant sleeps.” The reader sees hair (or trees), houses (or eyes and a mouth), a body (or fields) and legs (or cliffs and a lighthouse). Are we imagining things, or are we really seeing a sleeping giant in the ocean surrounded by ships, planes, and a starry sky?

We begin a wondrous journey of the imagination where everything seems to be something else. All parts of the island are places of magic and mystery. Things are hidden in each and every part of the island/giant figure. There are fairies in the trees; a dog named Pirate in the doghouse; a wizard in the field; witches in the cliffside houses; goblins and pixies asleep in the fields; and the seven dwarfs are hidden in a cave beneath the ground. All of these magical and mystical creatures are working together “to make a quilt of moons and stars to wrap you in…tonight.”

This book will become a favorite bedtime read-aloud for parents and grandparents. The text is gentle yet intriguing, allowing for lots of conversation and interaction between the text, the reader and the listener. On the last page of the book, we once again see a sleeping child. All the characters of the picture book are in the child’s room – as well as the book itself. The story has come to an end, and hopefully, all young children are asleep – even our listener.

The illustrations are truly wondrous. Radunsky has outdone himself. Using hazy images full of strange but amazing magical characters, he invites reader to use their imagination. For the illustrator, everything we see is really something else. He is telling the reader that the world is what we choose to make it; we are only limited by our imagination. What a wonderful message to send to young, imaginative children who have not yet been told they “can’t” do something.

The images in this picture book remind us of the original island/giant image. What is it really – a giant or an island? Can it be both? The characters are so realistic in their brightly colored clothes that they virtually jump off the page. They invite comparison to traditional fairy tale and folk tale figures. The dwarfs, ogres, elves will probably be familiar to our media-savvy young readers.

Mem Fox, an accomplished and prize-winning author and poet, has written dozens of wonderful picture books. She lives in Australia, where she writes and teaches teachers how to teach reading and writing. She travels the world giving presentations. Once you have seen one of her presentations about reading aloud, you will never read a picture book the same way again. Parent and teachers alike should take the time to visit her website ( to learn more about how to encourage the joy of reading in young children. Make sure to read her “Ten Read-Aloud Commandments.” In Where the Giant Sleeps, Fox uses the rhythm and rhyme of poetry to move her story forward while easing the young listener into sleep. It is truly a joy to read.

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  Myra Junyk/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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