Picture Book Snob
Beware of the giant baby!
Attack of the Giant Baby by David Lucas and Bruce Ingman
An enormous baby is on the loose destroying everything in its path. Special advisors are consulted, knights in shining armour are dispatched and monster-sized bears are unleashed, but none are a match for Giant Baby. Can anything stop this rampaging infant, and will peace ever be restored to the kingdom?
Attack of the Giant Baby is a massively entertaining and playful story, and a huge hit with my family. Here are ten reasons why we love it:
1. It celebrates imaginative play.
2. It's based on a clever and fun concept which presents familiar scenes from everyday life in an interesting, unusual and amusing way.
3. Dynamic language with lots of alliteration and sound words make it perfect for reading aloud.
4. The use of repetition throughout the story will also appeal to the very young.
5. It shows how a non-combative approach can be the best way to resolve a conflict and that talking is more effective than fighting.
6. It promotes kindness and empathy - it's only when the courtiers try to see things from the point of view of their adversary that their problem can be solved.
7. It plays with the concept of the villain and shows how things can seem more threatening when they are misunderstood.
8. It's diverse - the king and queen are of different ethnicities and their daughter, the princess, is mixed race.
9. It's feminist! I don't want to give away the ending, but the pragmatic princess is central to the plot and the only one in the kingdom successful at stopping the baby.
10. The illustrations are wonderful.
I have to discuss the illustrations in more detail as they are fabulous. They're incredibly lively, a mixture of black and white line drawings and full-colour artwork, and powerfully reinforce all the humour. I love how the brushstrokes are clearly visible, emphasising how the pictures are hand-painted and inspiring creativity in children. A clever use of collage gives the castle a 3D quality. My kids especially love how the castle looks "real" (just like it must seem to its inhabitants) and the glimpses of Giant Baby that can be seen through its windows crack them up. They also enjoy looking at what the royal family is having for breakfast.
One of favourite images is of the advisors, which include Batman, Winnie the Pooh and a daft-looking alien, sitting around a table. I love the scene showing the baby trampling the forest and flattening houses in its wake. It's so funny watching all the characters running away and I appreciate the nod to the three little bears in the forest too! The baby's face and the passengers running for cover, as the bus and rail systems are attacked, are hilarious. I love the look of mischief or "divilment" (as we say in Ireland) that the baby has while running amok, but the expressions of all the characters are priceless. I love how when the air force arrives, the book flips to greater impress upon readers how large and invincible the baby seems to everyone in the kingdom.
It's fantastic how this story turns a typically benign entity into a thing of terror. It's brilliant how the shifting perspective shows the same story from different angles and explores a child-like view of the world where play is paramount. Having everyone in the kingdom afraid of a baby is a stroke of comic genius. I love the princess' knowing glance at the reader in the very last image.
Attack of the Giant Baby is destined to be a colossal hit. This delightfully whimsical and imaginative tour de force is the cross between Toy Story and King Kong you didn't know you needed!
About the author:
David Lucas first worked as an illustrator aged 17, as a studio junior in a design company in Clerkenwell. He went on to study illustration at St Martins School of Art, and then the Royal College of Art. Shortly after graduating, David illustrated a picture book by Ted Hughes, and started writing picture book stories of his own. His books have been translated into 12 languages and in 2008 he was named one of the UK’s best new illustrators by the Booktrust. David regularly teaches writing and drawing workshops in schools and museums and at literary festivals across the UK. He has been a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art, and at other art colleges in the UK, and has exhibited his work in group shows in the UK and Japan. David lives with his wife and their daughter in an old school house in east London and you can find more of his work on his website.
About the illustrator:
Bruce Ingman is an internationally acclaimed award-winning author and illustrator who
Bruce studied at the Royal College of Art, London. His first book, When Martha’s Away, won the prestigious Mother Goose Award for the Best British Newcomer to Children’s Picture Books (1996) and The Overall Winner of the V&A Illustration Award (1996). His partnership with author Allan Ahlberg has yielded many successes including The Runaway Dinner, Previously, My Worst Book Ever and The Pencil. Bruce was awarded the Redhouse Children’s Picture Book Award and Time magazine’s Children’s Book of the Year for The Pencil. He co wrote Dick Bruna for the biography series The Illustrators published by Thames & Hudson in 2020. Bruce is Head of the MA Children’s Literature: Children’s Book Illustration course at Goldsmiths, University of London. He lives in London and in West Cork, Ireland. See more of his work on his website.
Attack of the Giant Baby is published by Bloomsbury on 8th July 2021 - see this book on the publisher's website
A huge thank you to the lovely people in Bloomsbury for sharing this gorgeous story with us in advance of its publication. All opinions expressed are our own.