BOOK REVIEW: The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell
Rabbit was hopping home one day when he heard a loud voice coming from inside his burrow.
“I’m the GIANT JUMPEREE and I’m scary as can be!”
Rabbit’s friends Cat, Bear and Elephant come to help, but they’re no match for the mysterious, booming voice…
But who is the Giant Jumperee?
A new read-aloud classic from internationally bestselling author Julia Donaldson, beautifully brought to life by award-winning illustrator Helen Oxenbury.
There are a few things that recommend this book, the first being the author, Julia Donaldson, author of such classics as The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and many more including, more recently, Detective Dog. The second is the illustrator, Helen Oxenbury, most known for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. And then there’s the fact that this was originally created for guided reading back in 2000, and has obviously experienced a certain amount of demand if they’re bringing it back into print.
The story is a great one to read aloud, with emphasis on “Giant Jumperee” every time it’s mentioned, and a threat boomed out specific to the character planning to remove the Giant Jumperee from Rabbit’s hole. To Cat, it promises to squash her “like a flea”, to Bear it suggests it will sting him “like a bee”, and so on. The illustrations, of course, are as gorgeous as one would expect from Oxenbury.
But for this reader the ending, while entertaining for kids, does seem to beg for some proper kind of wrap up, and there isn’t a particularly clear message for young readers to take away from the story. This isn’t to say that every picture book has to have a deeper meaning, but without closure or message, this is one of the more disappointing Julia Donaldson books I have read. Perhaps this is owing to how early on in her career it was originally released, which highlights how much it pales in comparison to the newer books. This doesn’t have the benefit of her years of experience to help them into a more well-rounded story, and it’s quite obvious in the reading.
But it is still a great book to read aloud, and gorgeous to look at.
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