If We Were Giants

Disney-Hyperion. Mar. 2020. 304p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484778715.
Gr 4-6–Kirra is a proud member of an idyllic secret community inside a dormant volcano. Only she and her father, the community’s official storytellers, can leave—and even then, they must disguise themselves to keep their home safe. Everything changes when Kirra accidentally leads a group of enemies, known as Takers, to her community’s hideout, where they destroy everything she’s ever known. The girl flees, hiding in the trees with a new adoptive family—but a few years later, when the Takers return, she must find her bravery and voice to save her new home. The purpose of Kirra’s first family’s secrecy is never completely clear, while the Takers are cartoonish in their desire to destroy every community that they come across. The Takers, impossibly tall, thin outsiders with white hair and grey skin, are an uncomplicated if unrealistic enemy—while they seek to destroy everything around them, they do not seem interested in monetary or resource gain.
VERDICT The book’s eco-conscious message is strong, but the delivery is heavy-handed and often confusing; it is obvious that Kirra has gone through major trauma, but her feelings and recovery get lost in a meandering plot involving complicated large-scale puppetry and predictable pitfalls. Not recommended.

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