Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Book: The Legend of the Dream Giants
Author: Dustin Hansen
Book Series: Standalone
Recommended For…: middle grade, children, fantasy
Publication Date: March 8, 2022
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Recommended Age: 11+ (scary moments, grief, death, violence)
Explanation of CWs: There are some scary moments that might not be appropriate for some young readers. Themes of grief and death are explored. There is also some slight violence.
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Synopsis: When he was very young, Berg’s mother hid him in a cave and led an angry mob of villagers away, sacrificing her own life to protect her son. In all the years since, Berg has lived alone, the only reminders of his family are his mother’s satchel and his recurring dreams of a white bear who shares a magical sand from a fallen star. When the white bear touches Berg with the star-blue sand, he feels safe and happy in his dreams. Sometimes, when he feels lonely, he will risk entering a village to trade a smooth river rock or a feather for food. He’s really searching for kindness, companionship, and, maybe one day, someone who will want to get to know him and be his friend. But with every attempt he makes, people only see his massive size and cruelly chase him away, thinking he is Ünhold—a giant and a monster. Whoever this Ünhold is, Berg also fears him and hopes they never meet.
In his travels, Berg comes upon a new town, a city made of iron where blacksmiths construct all kinds of ironworks from gates to sculptures to chains and weapons. Berg meets a little girl, Anya, who doesn’t run and scream in fear like everyone else does. To his amazement and delight, Anya knows about the dream-sand and says she wants to be his friend.
The mayor convinces the villagers of the benefit of having a giant around who can protect their city from the dangers he says Ünhold has in store for them. Anya has learned about the dream-sand from secretly watching Ünhold use it to trade for food and trinkets, and she suspects the mayor is planning something different than what he says. Fearing the city isn’t safe for Berg, she warns her giant friend to flee. When a secret plot is revealed to capture Berg, the young giant has to figure out where he can place his trust.
The story follows Berg on his journey and is told through text and graphic novel-style illustrations of beautiful dream sequences that reveal Berg’s hopes and memories. Berg’s mother appears to him in his dreams as a white bear, patient, nurturing and protective, and he sees himself as a little bear cub. Berg is often unsure what exactly the dreams mean, but sometimes they describe things which are about to happen or give him answers to problems he is facing.
This tender and unique story-within-a-story is a riveting tale of loss, longing, adventure, being yourself, and finding the true meaning of friendship.
Review: For the most part this book was ok. It did good to set up some themes of grief and death, but also kindness and courage. The book is gorgeous with beautiful illustrations and great character development. The book also has a fairytale feel to it.
However, the book is very sad. It’s a really upsetting story and I don’t think it would be appropriate for some children like how I don’t think that The Giving Tree is appropriate for some children as well. Some of the themes are great, and maybe if you are trying to prepare the child for grief and death it would be good, but this probably wouldn’t be a book you should pick out for a bedtime story. However, you know your children better than I do so please read the book and decide how it would be best for your children.
Verdict: It was ok.