Barbara Thorson is not your average fifth grader. Oh, she may look like just another bespectacled, funny-hatted munchkin, but don’t get her mad because she just might smite you with her mighty hammer, Coveleski (named for an obscure left handed Phillies pitcher who single handedly defeated the New York Giants in a 1908 playoff race). Because Barbara, master D & D player and middle school bully buster, is also a secret giant slayer. Few people know about the spells she works in her room or the offerings she leaves on the beach near her Long Island home that keep her home and small town giant-free. But when a nosy school counselor, a well-meaning classmate and a preternaturally large stone cold bully named Taylor start poking around in Barbara’s business, all hell breaks loose and Barbara is forced to face a giant she’s been ignoring for a long time: her mother’s cancer. This b&w GN may be ABOUT a fifth grader, but it’s so not FOR a fifth grade reader. It’s for my middle and high school peeps who struggle against the giants of loneliness, fear, insecurity and pain everyday and don’t feel like they have anyone who will stand by their side and raise a sword. I loved Niimura’s scrappy, rough-hewn style and the ease in which he flips between Barbara’s real and imagined life. Bold, angry and surprisingly sweet, I Kill Giants is the perfect antidote for those days when you feel like the bad guys may be winning and you need a little lift by first lunch.
I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and illustrated by JM Ken Niimura