Friday, March 13, 2020

Blog Tour Review of If We Were Giants by Dave Matthew and Clete Barrett Smith, Illustrations by Antonio Javier Caparo

Today I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the IF WE WERE GIANTS by Dave Matthews & Clete Barrett Smith Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

43971972. sy475  If We Were Giants 
Author:  Dave Matthews and Clete Barrett Smith, Illustrations by Antonio Javier Caparo
Publisher:  Disney Hyperion
Format: Hardcover 
Number of Pages:  304 
Published:  March 3rd, 2020 
Genre: MG Fantasy
Source:  Physical copy provided by the publisher 

Opening Line:  "Only a few people were ever allowed to venture past the borders of Zedu."  

World-renowned musician, environmentalist, and humanitarian Dave Matthews, in collaboration with popular children’s book author Clete Barrett Smith, has conjured an exciting and poignant fantasy about a girl who must confront her past mistakes before she can save her peaceful community from a gigantic threat.

Publishers Description:   Kirra, a curious, agile, and outgoing girl, lives in an idyllic community hidden inside a dormant volcano. She and her father are the only two people allowed to venture beyond its walls. Kirra is in training to become a Storyteller like him, and together they travel from village to village spreading fearsome tales designed to keep outsiders away from their secret nest. One day, after hearing rumors of strangers called the "Takers," Kirra leaves the volcano by herself, hoping to discover her own story. But she unknowingly leads the Takers back to her doorstep, and they rob her of everything she has ever held dear. A devastated Kirra is found by a boy named Luwan and adopted into his family, which lives among others high in the trees of a dense forest. Now quiet and withdrawn, Kirra hides her dark past from everyone and never wants to leave the safety of her tree-dwelling. Luwan, on the other hand, loves to explore. One day it leads to trouble: He is captured while spying on a group of strangers. The Takers have returned. To save the Tree Folk, Kirra must face her inner demons and summon all her storytelling to weave the most important tale of her life. This compelling novel about overcoming loss, embracing community, and living in harmony with nature is highlighted with a full-color insert of concept artwork, making it perfect for family sharing.

Dave & Clete Talk about IF WE WERE GIANTS:

My Thoughts:

If We Were Giants is a beautiful middle-grade fantasy with the art of storytelling, family and community at its heart.  It's about a young girl who respected and admired her father for the way that he could weave stories that not only enthralled but frightened their listeners.  Stories that were meant to keep Outsiders from looking for their village by telling tales of underground fire demons living inside of a volcano.  Kirra is kind-hearted, energetic, athletic and loves the people of her village, but delights in exploring the outside world on her trips with her father.    When she hears that Outsiders are coming closer to finding the location of Zedu, she ventures out from her protected home into the outside world.  Kirra is determined to prevent them from finding the secret entrance to their village.  The story is told in three parts.  The beginning chronicles Kirra's life with her family and the devastating mistake that she made.  Instead of gathering information about the invaders or Takers, she ends up showing them the way to her village which they then destroy.  Riddled with guilt by what has happened to her people, Kirra then falls into a river and is carried away downstream where she is then rescued by Luwan, a boy from the Tree Folk village.  

The next part of the story is my favorite.  After being rescued Kirra finds herself in a village that is some 200 feet above the ground.  It's a huge adjustment for her to make.  Kirra still feels guilty for leading the Takers to her home and it's painful for her to talk about her past.  She attempts to contain her memories from her past to prevent her from experiencing downward spirals in her emotions.  Her former home,  Zedu was a protected village prior to the arrival of the Takers, the community was one of sharing, connectedness and they seemed to live with the land.  With Luwan and the Tree Folk, Kirra is somewhat of an outsider.  She wasn't born into the community but instead was found by her new family.  The tree folk are a community of displaced people and aren't as connected to their neighbors.  The families seem to keep to themselves and Kirra tries very hard to fit in.  Kirra meets one of my favorite characters, Mome, an elderly man who like Kirra wasn't born into the community.  I love the way that he helps Kirra in dealing with her past mistake, how he helps her draw the courage to tell the story of where she came from and help prevent the Takers from wiping out another village.  

In the final part of the story, Kirra helps the community to develop a plan against their eminent attackers.  It highlights the importance of community and the connectivity it offers.  That together, united the collective can be stronger than an individual, especially when everyone is in synch and has a common goal.

Favorite line:  "It's the people in a house that matter, not the house or the possessions.  Never the things."                 

About Dave:

Dave Matthews has chronicled his life’s travels so often that when asked, he can rattle off the details without pause. It goes like this:

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1967. Moves two years later with his family to Westchester County, NY, where his dad, a physicist, goes to work for IBM. Then, in the early `70s, to Cambridge, England, before returning to New York — where his dad died in 1977. The family moved back to South Africa in 1980, where Matthews went to a few different schools and “got more wise about the evils of government, there and in general.” O.K.; pause for a breath.

The key move for Dave Matthews Band fans, of course, was when he relocated in 1986 to Charlottesville, VA, where his parents had lived before he was born. Though he also logged time back in South Africa and in Amsterdam, it was in Charlottesville where Matthews — who took piano lessons as a child before picking up the guitar at age nine — became part of the local music community and hatched the idea for his own band.

“I didn’t really have a vision, or a plan,” says Matthews, acknowledging that some of his musical sensibility came from spending time in so many different places as a child. “I’m sure it gave me a little bit of an openness. The most diverse music in the world is in America, ’cause there’s so many different cultures here, but what tends to be pushed to the top is often a narrow view of what there really is. So maybe (his travels) just gave me a wider pool of listening.”

Matthews says his principal goal with the band was to surround himself with the best players possible. To this day he remains “amazed” that he was able to recruit and retain the four musicians he rather modestly refers to as his superiors. “I was just looking for people that I liked,” explains Matthews, who feels he’s “gotten a bit better” over the years. “Could I play with them was more of the question, I think. We just ended up fitting together. The band wasn’t something that I was looking for; it was very much I loved the people I asked to play with me. There was a connection at the beginning, and I think what we’ve been about is not some grand scheme but more the spirit of everyone, which is why we ended up with this band and why it sounds like it does.”

Dave Matthews photo credit Brantley Gutierrez

About Clete:

Clete Barrett Smith’s first novel for teens, Mr. 60%, will be released by Crown Books in August 2017. Smith has also written four humorous middle-grade adventures: Aliens on Vacation Alien on a Rampage, Aliens in Disguise, and Magic Delivery. Aliens on Vacation was released by Disney-Hyperion Books for Children in May 2011 and named an American Booksellers Council “New Voices” selection as one of the top middle-grade novels of the year by a debut author; and AOV was nominated for state award lists in Texas, Florida, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska. A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, Clete Barrett Smith taught English, Drama, and Speech at the high school level for over twenty years. Clete received his MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010. He currently lives in Bellingham, Washington with his family.

Giveaway Details:

Three lucky winners will receive a finished copy of IF WE WERE GIANTS, US Only.

Visit all the Blog Tour Stops for If We Were Giants: 

Week One:

Week Two:

Week Three:

Week Four:

Week Five:


1 comment:

  1. I have long been a fan of DMB and am excited to see that Dave co-wrote this MG book! Love the cover and the story sounds amazing. I look forward to reading it! It sounds like something I will love. Thanks for sharing. :)