The Sleeping Giant by Marie Louise Fitzpatrick is the latest edition of this book which was first published in 1991. It is a magical book with wonderful illustrations which both adults and children of all ages will find engaging and captivating.
The story is about a giant who terrifies the inhabitants in the Kingdom of Kerry with the result that they plead with its King to address the issue. A druid, at the behest of the King, sends the giant to sleep with a stew he makes containing special herbs. The giant wades into the sea and falls asleep on his back, thus resembling an island. He rests there for many years where people come from far and wide to see this ‘island’ covered with grass and seagulls’ nests.
However, years later, the giant wakes up and decides to wander around his old haunts. In doing so, he causes pandemonium amongst both the locals and tourists as he attempts to make friends and chat with people. He possesses an innate desire to belong.
Again, people are terrified of him and their reaction both upsets and disturbs him so much that his tears turn into relentless rain. People lobby the man from the Tourist Board to get him to encourage the giant to go back into the sea. A little girl volunteers to try and persuade the giant to do so. She is successful in her endeavour as she highlights how many people loved the ‘island’.
Before the giant returns to the sea to become ‘The Sleeping Giant’ the locals hold a farewell party to send him on his way. At the end of the story, the giant feels adored and is willingly enveloped by the sea once again.
There are endless possibilities as to how this book could be effectively used in the classroom. Some which spring to mind include
- (a) sequencing activity where students retell the story orally, in writing or through drawing pictures
- (b) readers’ theatre where students work collaboratively in groups to write the script
- (c) in SPHE, exploring how someone’s difference(s) can instil a sense of isolation and fear.
I read this book to a variety of classes ranging from Junior Infants to 3rd Class and all the students were thoroughly enthralled by the storyline as well as the illustrations. This would be a wonderful addition to any classroom library given the multifaceted nature of this book.
By Sandra Ní Dhubhda, SEN Teacher
“The Sleeping Giant” by Marie Louise Fitzpatrick, published by O’Brien Press, is now on sale for €9.99.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher, O’Brien Press, free of charge to Seomra Ranga for the purposes of this review