<B>The Spiffiest Giant</B> in Town takes place in an enchanted land where giants loom over a smaller world inhabited by people, elves and animals, and where all coexist peacefully. It's a magical land beautifully drawn by Axel Scheffler: envision Richard Scarry's Busytown combined with Hansel and Gretel, set in a European-looking, storybook world.

Scottish children's author Julia Donaldson writes about a lovably, truly scruffy giant named George, who one day decides it's high time to give himself a giant-sized makeover. He heads to a haberdashery run by small people in a small store, which means he can't go in, so he views the merchandise by lying on the ground and peeking through the door. Soon he's outfitted and seemingly a new man, having traded his worn-out, monk's-style gown and grungy sandals for a "spiffy" shirt, pair of pants, belt, tie, socks and shiny black shoes.

George's new look doesn't last long, however, as he runs into a series of creatures who need help: a giraffe with a cold neck, a goat whose boat needs a sail, a family of mice whose house has burnt down. Immediately, he starts doling out his clothes to help. His tie warms the giraffe's neck, his shirt becomes a sail, and one of his new shoes becomes a mouse house. Before long, George has given away practically everything, only to finally find himself outside the haberdashery in his skivvies! The store is closed, and George can only put on his dirty old clothes once more. In the end, however, George is warmly thanked by all those he has helped, and he learns a valuable lesson: that it's much more important to be kind than spiffy.

Young readers will enjoy the form of the story, the repetitive sequence of different creatures who need George's help. They'll also enjoy guessing what article of clothing George might next peel off to help each creature he encounters. The tale is simple yet delightful, and its moral is one that people of all ages and sizes should keep in mind. The world definitely needs more Georges like this gentle giant.



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