Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Giant-Slayer by Iain Lawrence

giant-slayer The Giant-Slayer is really two stories in one.  The main story tells about a girl growing up in 1955, before the polio vaccine was discovered and many kids were being stricken with the illness.  Because polio affects the muscles of the body, it also affects one’s ability to breathe normally.  The solution in 1955 was to put the afflicted in an “iron lung,” a machine that completely encased the body and worked like a bellows to force air in and out of the patient’s lungs. Laurie is a lonely little girl whose mother is dead and whose father works for the foundation that is raising money to fund polio research. She spends her days with a housekeeper, Mrs. Strawberry, who has old-fashioned ideas about how to keep Laurie from catching polio, which means she isn’t allowed to go anywhere during the summer where other children congregate, especially if there’s water involved.  Laurie has never really had a friend, but then Dickie moves into her neighborhood.  Everything is going great, until Dickie comes down with polio.  Laurie goes to visit him in the polio ward, even though her father and Mrs. Strawberry have forbidden her to.  There are 2 other kids in iron lungs, too, and Dickie convinces her to tell them a story, just like they used to tell each other before he was in the hospital.  So she starts what is the second story in the book.  To be honest, at first I had trouble getting into the giant-slayer story that Laurie tells, but once I could keep the characters straight I enjoyed it.  The style of the writing seems a little young compared to the content, which is pretty sad and upsetting, but I got used to it and ended up really liking the book.  Review by Stacy Church

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