cover image When Giants Come to Play

When Giants Come to Play

Andrea Beaty, , illus. by Kevin Hawkes. . Abrams, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-5759-6

Here, as in his artwork for Lynne Bertrand's Granite Baby , Hawkes proves that when it comes to giant tales, he's a supersize talent. Young Anna imagines that two humongous playmates appear whenever—according to the occasionally purple text—"the sun shines just so and the wind blows like this and like that on its way to somewhere else." One stout, round-faced giant sports a bowler hat that's a little too small for his massive head, while his skinny, frizzy-haired comrade in overalls brings to mind John Turturro with a little Stan Laurel mixed in. Hawkes underscores their hugeness by rarely showing them full-body (as if they're too big for the pages' bounds), and summons up plenty of satisfying broad comedy (these very-big-fishes-out-of-water play marbles with soccer balls). But there's more going on in these paintings that lifts this book above the many tributes to a child's power of imagination. A genuine poignancy resonates throughout Hawkes's artwork, which nicely balances elegant, painterly elements with the slapstick action. His giants are not just big fun, they are big-hearted—and they wear their adoration for Anna on their extra-extra-extra-large–size sleeves. Even when engaged in the silliest task (such as picking peaches by uprooting the entire tree), they fulfill the yearning within every child—even one as self-assured as Anna—to be under the watchful eye of someone benevolent and big. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)