Everyone knows the tale about the boy named Jack, who climbed up the beanstalk and encountered giants. And everyone knows, in the giant land of Groil that is, that iggly plop, or little people, and bimplestonks, or beanstalks, don't really exist. Julia Donaldson, British author of numerous fantasy stories for young children, most notably The Gruffalo, reunites these two worlds in the enchanting and adventurous The Giants and the Joneses.
An avid collector with a secret stash of beans, eight-year-old Jumbeelia throws one bean over the edge of the land, and comes back the next day to climb down the beanstalk, which has sprouted overnight. She returns to Groil with a sheep, lawnmower, clothesline and three iggly plop siblings—Colette, Stephen and Poppy Jones.
Jumbeelia settles the children in her dollhouse, but like most eight-year-olds, the girl's attention is easily distracted, and the little Jones siblings are left to fend for themselves in an oversized environment. Their biggest obstacles are Jumbeelia's older brother, Zab, who takes devilish delight in pitting the humans against insects and spiders half their size, and Throg, the caretaker of the edgeland who is old enough to remember the truth behind the beanstalk tale. Colette, a collector herself, knowledgeable Stephen and spunky Poppy pool their resources to escape the giants, but in a manner much different than their predecessor, Jack.
This classic with a twist is made all the more appealing by Greg Swearingen's charming sketches and Donaldson's blend of English and Groilish. The author writes Groilish with a syntax identical to English, so young children will easily grasp the "foreign" language. She also concludes the book with a Groilish-English dictionary. Adults should not be surprised to hear young readers mimicking the phrases of this beely, woozly story.
Angela Leeper is an iggly plop, educational consultant and freelance writer in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Copyright 2005 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Spring
Jumbeelia is a young giant who climbs down a beanstalk into the land of humans and collects three children. The subsequent adventures of the children in the land of the giants and their eventual escape are heavy on the morals and weak on suspense and internal logic. The invented words ("Iggly frangle!") of the giant's language are annoying. Glos. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2005 August #2
In search of legendary "iggly plops," Jumbeelia climbs down the "bimplestonk" and finds a lawn mower, a sheep and three children whom she pops into her collector's bag and takes back to Groil, her giant's world in the clouds. As the kidnapped "iggly plops," Collette, Steven and baby Poppy, come to understand their predicament, from Jumbeelia's harmless first welcoming kiss and delicious French fry, and the eventual signs of growing neglect, their old careless relationship changes and becomes caring. Collette's deepening introspection and fear grows, as she recognizes in Jumbeelia and herself the symptom of a casual collector: boredom. The plot quickens when Zab, Jumbeelia's brother, takes control. No longer animated dollhouse toys, in Zab's grip, they are helpless play-action figures to be tortured, forcing the children to drastic action. An invented Giant language that may entice young readers to the back to decipher the English-sounding picturesque language--or may drive them away--makes coincidence and quick resolutions a little less irritating. This reverse Jack in the Beanstalk feels like--and will be--a children's movie. (Fiction. 8-10) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews
Donaldson's (The Snail and the Whale) uneven novel introduces Jumbeelia, a young giantess who lives in Groil (Giant Land) and who repeatedly asks her mother to read her the story about the "iggly plop" (human) who climbed up the "bimplestonk," (beanstalk). An avid collector of odds and ends, Jumbeelia has amassed a cache of beans (bimples) and one day makes her way to the far reaches of Groil, "where the land stopped and the clouds began," and throws a bimple over the edge. After a bimplestonk sprouts, she climbs down and happens upon the three Jones siblings--Colette, Stephen and Poppy--and starts her newest collection, iggly plops. She transports them back to Groil, where she places the trio in her dollhouse. As they attempt to escape, the children encounter Zab, Jumbeelia's rather sadistic brother, who makes them his "playthings" (e.g., in one passage, he muses that Colette is "the perfect victim for the experiments and tortures that he could only dream of inflicting on his life-size sister"). The Joneses must overcome numerous obstacles to escape, but unfortunately readers may find their path more tedious than thrilling, making for a plot that falls short of its inventive premise. Some may also find that the need to refer to the glossary of "Groilish" words hinders the narrative's pace. Ages 8-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2005 October
Gr 3-5 -Most giants in Groil disregard the fairy tale about the tiny thief who once climbed a plant up to their land, but young Jumbeelia is sure that the pocket-sized "iggly plops" must exist. She drops a mysterious seed over the cloud edge, and, sure enough, a "bimplestonk" grows in the night. She climbs down to the miniature world where she collects some souvenirs, including three children-Collette; her brother, Stephen; and their baby sister, Poppy. The humans attempt to communicate with their huge captor, but, like all giants, Jumbeelia speaks only Groilish, and, in any case, she is too large to hear them. She installs the children in her dollhouse and plays nicely with her new "toys," but her brother is jealous and wants the iggly plops for his own. When he gets hold of them, he plays cruel, dangerous games with them, even forcing Stephen into deadly combat with a colossal wasp. The children resolve to escape, but the giant world is filled with dangerous objects and enormous creatures, including a very hungry cat and a mad old giant with a grudge against humans. The use of Groilish adds the appeal of a secret code to the story. All dialogue among the giants is written strictly in their own language. In-text translation is rare, although almost everything is clear in context. Dictionaries are provided so that young readers can become proficient in the lingo. An exciting story with a subtle message about respect and cooperation.-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL[Page 112]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.