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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Stone Giant (The)
by Anna Hoglund
Age Range: 6-8
A child and her knight father live alone on a tiny isolated island. One morning the knight tells his daughter a giant is terrorising the land and turning everyone into stone. The knight must leave his young daughter alone while goes off to fight this dangerous foe.
After many days and still, no sign of her father the young girl decides to undertake a perilous journey to find him. Taking nothing more than a knife, a mirror and the clothes she is dressed in, the girl sets off. Nothing deters her, not the darkness, black sea through which she swims, nor the forest she travels through following a gleaming path which leads to a solitary house where an old woman lives. Given food and shelter together with a red umbrella for her onward journey the girl sets out once more. Can guile and the three items in the girl’s possession help her to defeat the giant and find her father?
Swedish author/illustrator Anna Höglund acknowledges her inspiration came from Elsa Beskow’s classic tale about sisters Tripp, Trapp and Trull and their struggle to free their father from the evil giant Dum-Dum.
The text, translated by Julia Marshall, is sparse but impactful, set in the middle of the page surrounded by white space with an illustration appearing on each opposite page. There are also some double-page spreads too where the text is set carefully within the dramatic images. The artwork has a beautifully ethereal and eerie quality created by copper-plate etchings overlaid with watercolour washes which allow for different hues and tones, predominantly of black and grey but with dashes of bright red. Presented as a small gift book with cloth binding and gold lettering with striking end pages, The Stone Giant is a truly exquisite tale.