cover image Kate's Giants

Kate's Giants

Valiska Gregory. Candlewick Press (MA), $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-299-8

Offering a zippy twist to a familiar theme, Gregory (Through the Mickle Woods) introduces a girl frightened by the creatures she imagines at night-ghosts, beasts and giants that ``scritch'' and ``slither'' through a small attic door in her new bedroom. ``If you can think them up, then you can think them out'' is the aphoristic refrain sounded by both her parents. And the star of the story does just that-and then goes a step further by deciding to ``think in'' friendly creatures. Austin's (Go to Bed!) full-spread illustrations, rendered in pencil and watercolors, show the girl appropriately frightened and small in her corner of the bedroom, while allowing lots of space for the imaginary creatures to fill. Her marauding lions and bears, etc., seem poised to pounce but are not ferocious enough to terrify the reader. In terms of composition, draftsmanship and palette, many of the fantasy sequences seem modeled on Maurice Sendak, but Austin adds a few idiosyncratic touches, such as a painting of an owl that mimes Kate's reactions. Inspiring self-reliance, this inventive story is just the ticket for children afflicted by a bogeyman. Ages 3-up. (Sept.)