Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Not-So-Random Shelf: Picture Book

Stories about giants and dwarfs abound in children’s literature; we have the Giant in “Jack and the Beanstalk” and dwarfs in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” What children may not realize is that there really are people that have extraordinary height. While the Roloff family and others cable television shows have done a good deal to normalize little people/dwarfs, we really haven’t seen the same exposure to people with gigantic height. Perhaps it’s because compared to gigantism, dwarfism is more common? Whatever the case, The Giant of Seville is a nice counteract to the evil giant stories found in folklore.

Seville, OH wasn’t known for anything much until Captain Martin Van Buren Bates came to town. 11 foot tall Captain Bates and his wife frequently toured the country as part of the circus, but they were ready to quit the circus life and settle down in a small town. Something about Seville makes him embark from the town’s train stop. While the residents are initially astounded at his great height, they accept him as a welcome visitor.

Luckily, Captain Bates stumbles upon a boardinghouse, whose mistress unblinkingly permits him to board. As you can imagine, a king sized bed isn’t big enough for a giant. The lengths to which the boardinghouse owner and the town go to to make Captain Bates (and his wife, when she finally joins him) are hilarious and endearing. The Giant of Seville is a funny and heartwarming tale (based on a true story) of acceptance and accommodation.

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