The Giant-Slayer by Iain Lawrence
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
It’s 1955 and everyone fears polio, a horrible disease that affects nerves and can lead to full or partial paralysis; a vaccine against it doesn’t yet exist. Laurie’s close friend and neighbor Dickie is suddenly struck with polio and must be hospitalized because he needs a ventilator (iron lung) to help him breathe. Laurie’s father forbids her to visit him because he’s afraid that she, too, will catch polio, but she visits him anyway. There, she meets another boy named Chip and an older girl named Carolyn, both of whom are also in iron lungs.
To help pass the time for them, she starts telling a story and adds to it each time she visits. Eventually, the three of them begin to see parts of themselves in Laurie’s characters and become very attached to them. Through the story, Laurie provides her ailing friends with a little hope—something they haven’t felt for a long time.
This is a very good book—it is titled The Giant-Slayer because Jimmy, the main character in Laurie’s story, is destined to slay a giant even though he is so small. The chapters alternate between Laurie’s realistic experience and the story she tells to the other kids. Recommend this to those who enjoy a bit of fantasy in a realistic story, much like the book No Castles Here (Bauer).
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