A Giant from a Tiny Town: A Story of Angus MacAskill by Tom Ryan, illustrated by Christopher Hoyt. Nimbus, 2019. 9781771086547
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3
What did you like about the book? The 19th century giant from Cape Breton is profiled in this quiet picture book biography. Originally from the Scottish Hebrides, the family emigrated to Canada. The art communicates the long journey, which would be hard to explain to children, through several views of the ocean. I also like how the artist uses the frame of the page to show how tall MacAskill grew (to 7 feet, 9 inches!), showing him bent under the right angles of the page. Views of P. T. Barnum’s circus, where he ended up working, will please young children. A photograph in the biographical note at the end shows MacAskill next to Tom Thumb.
Anything you didn’t like about it? There’s not much drama in the telling. The author misses an opportunity in describing Angus’s adventures as travelling to “new places” and seeing “new things.” Even little kids like details! The art, while portraying the setting well, does not do justice to children, who look like short adults.
To whom would you recommend this book? Collections with Canadian populations may enjoy learning about this man. If it’s strong men you crave, I prefer Elise Gravel’s graphic novel biography The Great Antonio or Nicolas Debon’s picture book biography The Strongest Man in the World, Louis Cyr. For kids ages 3-6.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Children’s biography
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: July 19, 2019