Set against the rolling hills of pseudo-medieval France, Giants Beware! is the story of Claudette, a pint-size rapscallion who wears her hair short and her temper shorter. The daughter of the village blacksmith, Claudette has a singular ambition: to snuff out the neighborhood baby-feet-eating giant and destroy it. There are a few kinks in the would-be giant slayer’s plans, however. Her father, who was maimed fighting a dragon, makes light of her quest, considering it a child’s idle fancy. She also has to rally a pair of reluctant squires—an aspiring princess named Marie and her timorous younger brother, Gaston—to her cause, which she succeeds through some light chicanery.
Written by Jorge Aguirre and illustrated by Rafael Rosado, Giants Beware! is a Franco-Belgian-esque comedic romp filled with saturated landscapes, visual slapstick, and the occasional poop joke. (The last comes courtesy of Valiant, Claudette’s vicious, if equally diminutive, pug.)
High-brow literature, this ain’t, but the story has a surprising amount of heart, as well.
When Claudette and Marie are captured by a bloodthirsty witch in the so-called “Forest of Death,” it falls to Gaston to rescue them. Wielding his sister’s wooden prop sword, Gaston blanches at the idea. “I’m just a coward,” he whimpers.
Tied up with rope and submerged in a cauldron, Claudette manages to give him her version of the pep talk: “Being brave means that even if you are scared, you can still look fear in the eyes and tell it…I’m going to kick your ever-lovin’ butt!”
At its crux, Giants Beware! is a story about defying expectations.
It isn’t much, but it works.
At its crux, Giants Beware! is a story about defying expectations. Claudette refuses to be limited by her gender or size. Marie, far from a flighty preener, turns out to be a canny diplomat. Gaston, though he longs to learn swordmaking from his father, also harbors dreams of becoming a pastry chef.
As for that baby-feet-eating giant, its ill repute might just be a victim of shoddy fact-checking.
Appearances are only skin deep, after all.