The Smartest Giant in Town is the story of kindness and friendship and shows that helping others can reap its own rewards.
The Story: George doesn’t like being a scruffy giant so when he discovers a new clothes shop he buys himself new clothes and shoes and becomes the smartest giant in town. However,on his way home he meets several animals who need help so he gives each of them an item of his new clothing. When he ends up shivering in his underwear he goes back to the shop which is closed. Luckily he finds his old clothes in a bag outside and when he gets home all the animals that he has helped have a surprise for him.
We love the mix between giants, people and animals in this story. George goes to a people sized shop and has to peer through the door to do his shopping but most of the characters aren’t as large as him. However, size is irrelevant when the animals need his help and George is happy to oblige. From the tallest giraffe to the smallest mouse George solves their problems and becomes The Kindest Giant in Town.
Julia Donaldson’s text is easy to read and has a repetitive rhyming refrain. We love the way that fairy stories and nursery rhymes are incorporated into the story but not specifically mentioned in the text – George’s shoe becomes a house for the white mouse and her family and a miserable princess walks hand in hand with a frog. Axel Scheffler’s illustrations are full of humorous detail and we especially like the scenes in the town which show a variety of characters including pigs and dwarves going about their daily business.
The Smartest Giant in Town is a fantastic story to read in the classroom. Children can join in with the rhyming refrain and the story can stimulate many literacy activities. A fun activity to teach / consolidate rhyme is to split a class into groups and ask them to think of more words that rhyme with those in the story – boat / goat, house / mouse. Alternatively children could think of words that rhyme with an item of clothing – shirt / dirt, belt / melt. Children could also draw a giant item of clothing, think about how it could help a smaller animal and their ideas could be bound together to make a class book. I’ve also read the story to non native English speakers to introduce them to items of clothing, the children also enjoyed joining in with the refrain.
George is a very likeable giant and we love the original ways in which the characters use his clothing. This is a really feelgood story and we love the illustrated poem on the final page 🙂
Age Range: 3 +
Author: Julia Donaldson / Illustrator: Axel Scheffler