cover image Paul Bunyan vs. Hals Halson: The Giant Lumberjack Challenge!

Paul Bunyan vs. Hals Halson: The Giant Lumberjack Challenge!

Teresa Bateman, illus. by C.B. Canga, Albert Whitman, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8075-6367-0

Writing with a folksy cadence, Bateman (Fiona's Luck) introduces Bunyan as a baby who "was no bigger than your average grizzly bear despite what folks say." Dressed in bright red and blue, Bunyan stands out from the landscape for more than just his size, but Canga's brassy, somewhat wooden digital illustrations soon reveal a melancholy thread in young Bunyan's life. Too big to fit inside the schoolhouse, he peers through the windows, and at recess, he unhappily sits on one end of the teeter-totter while his classmates all crowd on the other. With only his blue ox, Babe, for company, Paul is also lonely as an adult, but when Hals Halson, who was "nearly as tall as Paul himself," thunders into the lumber camp, he doesn't have friendship on his mind. Hoping to prove he's "the greatest lumberjack in North America," Hals, who was not part of the original Paul Bunyan myth, picks a fight, while Paul responds with pacifism. Hals is knocked unconscious after charging his rival, but Paul extends a hand of friendship upon Hals's awakening hours later. A slim addition to the annals of Paul Bunyan lore. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)