Pocket Story – The Boy Giant
Release Date:February 26, 2010
Summary:A wonderful story about Hujo, a larger-than-life boy who tackles his unique insecurity by finding companionship in another.
Starting off Kids Week we have a beautifully illustrated storybook app by the name of The Boy Giant by Wotsamaflip, an original tale written by Allan Plenderleith, who happens to be one of the UK’s top screenwriters for children. As noted from earlier reviews, I do favor the storybook app quite a bit -books are a mainstay of any child’s life, and reading, itself, is important for instilling fun in an otherwise educational tool. Reading allows a child’s imagination to take hold, and take him to different places, or see things he wouldn’t otherwise see in his day-to-day life; what’s particularly exceptional about reading on the iPhone is it suddenly take on a more immersive feel, animating the characters on the pages, and creating a sense of autonomy for the child by having a built-in narrator should a real adult not be readily available. For kids who do not take keenly to reading, apps like The Boy Giant may give them a bit more leeway in figuring out books by themselves.
Of course, we already know about such technical splendor – The Boy Giant, itself, is a wonderful tale. While a contemporary original, the tale is a classic one, appealing to the lost, forlorn soul we all felt to be at one point in our lives, and finding happiness in companionship. The Boy Giant tells the tale of Hujo, the tongue-in-cheek literalism of a humongous boy, large from conception, throughout gestation and into birth, who finds himself at odds with the rest of the world because of his size. His parents, amusingly, seem to possess none of these larger-than-life attributes, his father even going by the name of Mr. Small due to his short stature, and his mother compensating for lack of inches with her stratospherically tall beehive hairdo. Of course, like all parents, they lavish adoration and love on Hujo, and treat him as they would any other child of reasonable proportions, sending him to school, and letting him run amuck on the playground. As the story continues, we empathize with Hujo’s plight as he breaks playground equipment, their steel frames bending under his voluminous weight, and in one scene, we feel our hearts ache at seeing Hujo perched outside a classroom, in full rain, trying to participate in class with his peers. The worst, by far – though humorous in its own way – is when a “No Hujo” sign is perched outside the playground, a large red slash centered on a silhouette of the big baby. Big, fat tears roll down his cheek as Hujo slowly realizes how different, and unrelatable he is. The sad part of the story climaxes in a beautifully drawn scene, with a rising sun highlighting the brilliant blues, indigos and reds in a pre-dawn sky, and hills of golden wheat undulating behind Hujo, as he seemingly contemplates his life ahead.
Each page in the storybook is illustrated in a simple, but likable manner, with offbeat drawings of a strange, billowy feel, like soft clouds inflated with the likes of crayons and watercolor paint. Hujo is simply drawn in the shape of a bean, with a few distinct lines here and there to demarcate where his too-short shirt ends, and his too-small pants begin. His googly eyes blink – sometimes barely, sometimes in rapid succession – and the faintest blotches of red appear on his face when he becomes sad, or when he becomes flustered, all adding to his human appeal. Every page holds some modicum of animation, even if it’s just Hujo’s big body wobbling back and forth, as if his breath is so large, and his legs so frail beneath that huge belly, that standing perfectly still is an impossibility. Like other, well-made storybook apps, The Boy Giant has a flipping mechanism that mimes real page flipping, enabling kids to learn how to use gestures to read through the entire book. An option to read by oneself or to have a narrator puts children in a decision-making role, allowing them, hopefully, to one day pick up the story and read it by themselves.
As with all good, tragic stories, The Boy Giant ends in happiness, with Hujo finding a purpose – from a presidential call, no less. President Obama is colorfully penciled in, entreating Hujo to assist with a matter in New York City, one that only Hujo himself can do given the sheer magnitude of the situation. With brave and independent gusto, Hujo sets off to find bigger meaning, and finds alongside this newfound purpose, a bigger person as well. A girl, named Bigsy, shares the same too-big-for-this-world plight as Hujo, and they develop an immediate bond, laying peacefully on the moon together in one of the final scenes. After we’ve all smiled and laughed, we can rest assured that if there’s anything Hujo and Bigsy can teach children, it’s that you are never alone.
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