Margaret Willey, , illus. by Heather Solomon. . S&S/Atheneum, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-83254-3

First-time illustrator Solomon makes an impressive debut in this winning tale of a spunky girl who matches her wits against a giant's brawn to save her family from destitution. Combining detailed watercolor and collage, the artist works patches of photographed tree bark, flowers, earth and grass into her paintings, creating a world in which realism blends with fantasy images to magical effect. Slender logs frame some of the pictures; in others, Beatrice and the giant appear as silhouettes against a white background. While some readers may find the heroine's cheekiness off-putting, others will admire her confidence and creative problem-solving as she tricks the giant into conceding each bet, in spite of his superior strength. Such humorous moments as when the girl wraps a rope around the giant's well and says, "I am not going to bother carrying those buckets one by one.... I would sooner pull out the whole well," are sure to amuse readers, as will the good-natured tone of the battle, which leaves the giant "smiling to himself, feeling lucky" despite his losses. Willey's engaging tale of her sharp-witted heroine's courage, enhanced by Solomon's inspired illustrations, is clever indeed. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)