Monday, April 12, 2010


By Iain Lawrence
Publisher: Delacorte Press
ISBN: 978-0-385-73376-2

FROM THE FLAP: The spring of 1955 tests Laurie Valentine’s gifts as a storyteller. After her friend Dickie contracts polio and finds himself confined to an iron lung, Laurie visits him in the hospital. She meets two other kids trapped inside the breathing machines: there’s Carolyn, an obnoxious girl whose family has abandoned her, and Chip, a boy with an enigmatic past. Laurie’s first impulse is to flee from the sickly children, but Dickie begs her to tell them a story. And so Laurie begins her tale of Colosso, a rampaging giant, and Jimmy, a tiny boy whose destiny is to become a slayer of giants.

As Laurie embellishes her tale with gnomes, unicorns, gryphons, and other fanciful creatures, Dickie comes to believe that he is a character in her story. No longer paralyzed, he’s transformed into Khan, a hunter of mythical beasts. Little by little, Carolyn, Chip, and other kids who come to listen recognize counterparts as well. The story allows them to forget reality and take on active, heroic roles. In fact, Laurie’s tale is so powerful that when she’s prevented from continuing it, Dickie, Carolyn, and Chip take turns as narrators. Each helps bring the story of Colosso and Jimmy to an end—changing the lives of those in the polio ward in startling ways.

KATE’S TAKE: A fusion of historical fiction, fantasy, hope, and friendship.

DELETED SCENES: (Verbal/Linguistic and Interpersonal)

In small groups have students write a new scene with characters from the book and perform it in front of the class. Students can choose to write a fantasy or a historical fiction scene. Their characters’ words and actions should match the characterization in the book.

DIAMANTE POEMS: (Verbal/Linguistic)

Transformation abounds in the Giant-Slayer. Ask students to write a diamante poem that illustrates how one character changed from the beginning to the end of the story or a poem that compares and contrasts two characters in the book.

LANDFORM MAPS (Visual/Spatial)

When Laurie was six, she drew a map of a fantasy world that later became the setting of the story. In small groups ask students to create a topographical map of their own fantasy world. Use cardboard for the base and play dough for the landforms. Challenge students to include at least ten different types of landforms.

MATH MINUTES (Logical/Mathematical and Interpersonal)

Between the coins dropped in Jimmy’s cradle and the piles of gold and silver alongside the road, students can imagine many fanciful math problems. Challenge each student to create a word problem based on the story that covers whatever current topic you’re studying in math. Then, switch problems with a partner and solve.

VACCINATION REPORTS (Verbal/Linguistic, Visual/Spatial, and Interpersonal)

Split the class into small groups and assign each group a different vaccine to research. Ask them to develop an informational poster about the disease and the vaccine. Have each group present their poster to the class and ask the class to critique each poster.


-Bearwalker by Joseph Bruchac
-Gods of Manhattan: Spirits in the Park by Scott Mebus
-Steal Away Home by Lois Ruby
-The Journey: A Northern Lights Adventure by Stephanie Wincik
-Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin


  1. Thanks for sharing a great book!

    In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, is having a contest where every teacher in your school can win a free gift! Check out the contest at

  2. Thanks for reading and posting a comment Tracy!