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When the Giant Stirred [Paperback]

Celia Godkin

Price: CDN$ 8.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

April 18 2005

Award-winning author/illustrator Celia Godkin once again turns to the subject of nature's remarkable ability to renew itself in this beautiful new book. A small island in the Pacific exists in perfect harmony, where all the plants, animals and people are interdependent. But the islanders live with the knowledge that their mountain god sometimes grumbles and threatens to awake. When that happens, the people offer up prayers and garlands of flowers to coax the giant back to sleep.

There comes a day, however, when the god will not be appeased. Smoke rises out of the mountain's crater, and ash and cinders begin to fall on the village. The chief tells his people it is time to leave. And days later, when the people have barely landed on another island, the volcano explodes. Soon there is nothing left of the old island but a smoking ruin devoid of all life.

But the story is not over. Slowly, gradually, the island begins to support the stirrings of life once more. And with the return to its lush, former glory comes the hope that the island will be home once more to a sleepy village and its gentle, smiling people.

Written with the grace and dignity of a native storyteller's voice, When the Giant Stirred demonstrates how even one of the world's most cataclymic events can be an integral part of nature's cycle. Celia Godkin takes her artwork into a new, exciting level with oils that are saturated with colour. Her depiction of a primitive people and their jewel-like paradise is reminiscent of the great post-impressionist Gauguin. This information storybook is a must-have for schools, libraries and homes everywhere.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside (April 18 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155041965X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550419658
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 26.4 x 0.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,734,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Godkin (Wolf Island) views nature's "endless cycle of destruction and renewal" through an artistic rather than a scientific lens. Opening on a lilting note, the narrative introduces the "gentle, smiling people" who reside in a sleepy village in a lush paradise. They live off the land, collecting "coconuts from the beaches, fruit from the forest, and fish from the lagoon." A Gauguin-esque portrait of a mother and child draining milk from a coconut typifies the easy mix of cooperation and warmth in this closely knit community. One day, the mountain that towers over their village "rumble[s] like a giant" and refuses to settle down. A full-bleed painting of majestic birds, dominated by red parrots, fleeing the grand green expanse of the island telegraphs the imminent danger. The village chief tells them "the birds were the messengers of the gods" and the people, too, leave their home. The people witness the effects of the volcanic eruption from a safe distance on a new island: a tidal wave rises on the horizon, and "for weeks afterward the sky was black with smoke." Godkin punctuates earth tones with the vivid hues that nature bestows-from the brilliant tropical fish to the vermilion flames of the spouting volcano. These graphics help readers appreciate the contrast between the tranquility of the villagers' initial existence and the violence of the phenomenon that brings it to an end-at least temporarily. A lyrical yet dramatic portrait of nature's cycle. Ages 6-up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2-An island peopled by gentle inhabitants whose simple existence among the lush fruits, flowers, and forest is threatened by another of the island's features: a belching, cone-shaped mountain. Thus the crux of the story is that while the giant/mountain god is sometimes appeased by floral offerings, one day it is clear that it is about to erupt and leave only a barren smoking ruin. The people flee to a new island and "month by month, year by year" as they reestablish themselves, the old island, too, begins to renew itself. Nature's life cycle is complete. Godkin posits this story of loss and renewal as the "legend" of a volcanic island. The publisher marks it with a seal: "Informational Storybook." There have been a number of recent books that intermingle fact and fiction, more often fictionalizing nonfiction. This offering is an attempt at the opposite, and it is not entirely successful. The text is matter-of-fact with declarative sentences; the flow one is accustomed to in "legend" is missing. The repetitive refrain, "on the island," becomes an annoyance rather than a storytelling device. The illustrations, done in oils, have a primitive flatness that almost suggests Gauguin's Tahiti, but they lack spirit and form. The colors are not as saturated as they might be to draw readers in; the people seem either expressionless or angry, not content or fearful as the text suggests. The book is neither legend nor science and because it does not clearly establish itself as either, it falters.
Harriett Fargnoli, Great Neck Library, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful blend of story and fact May 13 2014
By Bonnie Ferrante - Published on Amazon.com
This is a nonfiction children’s picture book suited for grades three and up. It is the story of a tropical island where peaceful villagers live in harmony with nature and each other. When the volcano, the villagers call the giant, growls they toss garlands of flowers into the crater. One day this does not calm the threatening rumbles. When the birds leave the island, the chief tells his people they must also leave. They pack everything into small boats and move to another island. The volcano erupts spectacularly. Its power even reaches their new home but the people know they must seek high ground for safety.

Little by little, life returns to the newly shaped island.

I wondered why the book said legend when it felt so much like history. Additional information for older readers is included inside the front and back covers explaining the lifecycles of volcanoes and their effects on Pacific Island people.

This is a compelling story which explains the geographical feature through the eyes of the most vulnerable people. The writing is clear, vivid, and at times even poetic “On the island there was a cool, blue Lagoon, many silvery fish swam in an underwater garden of strange and wondrous animals.”

What a superb way for children to learn about the behaviour and affect of a volcano. The picture book section will be enjoyed by readers of all ages. The additional information provides facts and statistics the scientifically minded will find fascinating.

Celia Godkin illustrates her own work. As with her beautiful illustrations in Wolf Island and Ladybug Garden, the oil paintings glow with life. As the giant sea turtles make their way up the sand, we can imagine the sound of the rustling palm trees and the shifts of the ocean waves meeting the shore. The intense orange red of the fleeing parrots repeats in the flames of the volcanic blast and then reappears at the end with the returning parrots many years later. I love the way Godkin devotes an entire spread, without words, to the vividly exploding volcano, the star of the story. Another amazing book by Celia Godkin.

Highly recommended.

For more picture book reviews, go to bferrante.wordpress.com/

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