BOOKBLOG: David Litchfield

Grandad’s Secret Giant: heartwarming, beautiful and poignant.

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“He has hands the size of tables,” Grandad said, “legs as long as drainpipes and feet as big as rowing boats. Do you know who I mean?”
“Yes,” sighed Billy. “The Secret Giant. But he’s not real!”
Billy doesn’t believe his Grandad when he tells him there’s a giant living in his town, doing good deeds for everyone. He knows that a giant is too big to keep himself hidden. And why would he WANT to keep himself a secret? But as time goes on, Billy learns that some secrets are too BIG to stay secret for long…”

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Every now and again along come authors who write books that just hit a chord with me, who just write stories that mean something without being condescending, without being overly zealous about it, who just write things that are incredibly well put together, incredibly beautifully illustrated and will stay with me forever. Grandad’s Secret Giant is another one of David Litchfield’s books that will do just that (there’s already The Bear and the Piano and The Building Boy, which you need to get your hands on if you haven’t already)

Grandad’s Secret Giant tells the story of a Grandad who tells his grandson the story of the giant who lives in their town who helps the people out when they’re not looking, but who also has no friends. Everyone in the town is scared of the giant because he’s different, because he’s a giant. Naturally the little boy doesn’t believe his Grandad because who would believe a Grandad telling you about giants, they’re not real… right?! Wrong. In this book, the giant is the loveliest soul. He’s helpful, kind, polite and just wants to be friends with the townspeople. The young boy in the story wants to be friends with the giant and they set up a chance for the giant to meet with them so they can be friends, but of course the little boy runs away in fear. The Giant then himself stays away, who wants to be friends with someone who is scared of you? Eventually the boy feels bad and wants to make amends with the giant and turns a bad situation into a good one. They become friends in the end and the boy realises that yes, the giant may be different but he’s just a person who wants to have friends. 

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Throughout the book you see the good deeds the giant is doing for the town and yet the boy says every time “But I didn’t see the giant” and the Grandad tells him every time it’s because he wasn’t looking hard enough. This is a lovely message to read to children who maybe can’t see the good things other people do for them, or who can’t see when they fall out with their friends that they are good people. When I read this to the children at school they loved looking out for the giant each time and describing how the giant went unseen and how he was helping the people.

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The illustrations in this book are just incredible. It is so beautifully drawn, with such detail and precision. My children absolutely loved pointing things out throughout the story that even I hadn’t mentioned. I told the children this was a very special story so that when it was put in the reading corner it had to be looked after and it has been looked after brilliantly. One of my little girls even pointed out the differences between the end papers! I love when authors put tiny details in like this. It just makes it all that more special when you read it a few times, you notice new things that you haven’t noticed and as adults, children can sometimes see different things!

“Miss at the beginning of the book the town is all blue because the giant is sad but at the end it’s full of colour because the giant is happy now he has a friend!”

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My kids thought the Giant looked really friendly with one girl saying “Miss, I would want the giant to be my friend because I’m just small and he could reach high up things for me” which I thought was lush! We agreed that Grandad’s Secret Giant would be a very helpful person to have around school “especially when the ball gets stuck on the roof, because no one else can reach, Miss”. They would also like the giant to visit so they can ask him questions like, “what is it like being so tall? How do you get trousers to fit? Would you like to be normal sized? Do you know the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk?”. 

I think it’s fair to say that Grandad’s Secret Giant was an absolute winner not just with me but with the kids as well. I can’t wait to see what else David Litchfield produces. I love all of his books and they’re always a hit with teachers, parents and kids alike. All teachers, school libraries and households should have brilliant picture books like this.

Have you read Grandad’s Secret Giant?
How would your class react to him?
What would they want to ask him?

Let me know in the comments or talk to me on Twitter (@eenalol)! Thank you so much Quarto books for sending me a copy of this wonderful book to share with my kids!

Thanks for reading! 

S x

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