In 2018, Jill Morgan of Purple House Press sent me a few of her favorite picture books for review. I appreciated the beauty and timelessness of Miss Jaster’s Garden and have since given it as a baby gift. I truly enjoyed the sweet and relatable Alexander, and recommend it to mamas of littles who have big emotions. And, I was pleasantly surprised and entertained by The Practical Princess, appreciating science writer Jay Williams anew. I fell in love with, however, the Jolly Roger Bradfield Pickle Chiffon Pie books. How could I not love an author and illustrator who names himself “Jolly.” The books explode with color, fun, and joy! (If you click on the title of any of those books, it will take you to our review for that book.)
Originally published in 1966, Purple House Press republished this hilarious and sweet story in 2011, and reprinted it again this year after Jolly Roger passed away in January.
As far as I’ve been able to determine, giants come in roughly three sizes: ‘Very’ big, ‘Way, WAY’ big, and ‘Good grief, would you look at THAT!’ big. It is possible that there may be even larger ones, but I’ve never personally seen any.
A few folks, mostly adults, contend that there are no such things as giants. I will not waste your time nor mine disputing such radical theories. They probably don’t believe in the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy either. Blasphemy.
In addition (and you may not believe this) there are folks who dispute the fact that hamburgers grow on bushes. Good grief . . . doesn’t anyone major in agriculture anymore? I know for a fact that a certain fast-food chain started this rumor. Want scientific proof? Well, there are pictures of several hamburger bushes in this very book.Jolly Roger
Jolly Roger Bradfield’s stories are hilarious and endearing all on their own, but his commentary around his stories: on dust jackets, in letters to children, in comments in interviews, etc., make the stories all the more fun. He was a dear soul who loved children and loved making up stories for them. Truly a child at heart, he is an author to be read and reread with little ones we love.
In Giants Come in Different Sizes, we are treated to the same crayon and marker illustration style that we enjoyed in the Pickle Chiffon Pie books. This story, however, is set in a different kingdom. A silly little kingdom on a tiny island where the sun was nearly always shining and hamburgers grew on bushes. (How else would we get them if they didn’t grow on bushes?)
In this silly little kingdom of Dingleburg, there is a king and a beautiful princess, and they are very happy. That is, they are happy until a wicked wizard tries to steal the princess as his bride. The royal barber saves the day and protects the princess. Because he did not get his way, Wizard Wartz curses the sunny island with a gloomy cloud that blocks the sun and won’t go away. Thankfully, the king’s barber knows a few giants who may be able to help.
In modern fairy-tale fashion, the giants turn out to be good giants, and they win the day. The king is so happy that he lets the barber marry his daughter, and everyone is happy again.
It is a silly story. But it is a charming one too. My children (now supposedly past the age of picture books) giggled the whole way through, and continued to talk about it two weeks later. And, any time we see or talk about hamburgers, their laughter is renewed.
All of the Jolly Roger Bradfield books I have read have been a perfect mix of silly and sweet, with enough creativity to make them worth the investment and worth the time. I also find them to be great gifts because they are crowd-pleasers that feel like a real present to the reader.