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If We Were Giants (Special Limited Edition)

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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. Kirra, a curious, agile, and outgoing girl, lives in an idyllic c 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. 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 Now quiet and withdrawn, Kirra hides her dark past from everyone and never wants to leave the safety of her tree dwelling.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.


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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. Kirra, a curious, agile, and outgoing girl, lives in an idyllic c 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. 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.

30 review for If We Were Giants (Special Limited Edition)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    If you give your child only one book to read or share, give them IF WE WERE GIANTS by Dave Matthews. Yes, THAT Dave Matthews. Apparently, he is not only a passionate artist in the world of music and an advocate for saving the Earth, this man has the chops for writing that delivers more than words on a page. It delivers the message of acceptance, valuing family and community and doing anything necessary to keep it safe while teaching how to live in peace with those who are different. Kirra lost he If you give your child only one book to read or share, give them IF WE WERE GIANTS by Dave Matthews. Yes, THAT Dave Matthews. Apparently, he is not only a passionate artist in the world of music and an advocate for saving the Earth, this man has the chops for writing that delivers more than words on a page. It delivers the message of acceptance, valuing family and community and doing anything necessary to keep it safe while teaching how to live in peace with those who are different. Kirra lost her first family, but she never forgot the lessons her storyteller father had taught her. Her inner guilt at her part in the death of her community was buried deep, even as another tribe took her in and raised her as their own. Will history repeat itself as her new community is threatened by strangers who take what they need from others? It will be her determination to reveal her past that could save her future and that of those around her. Brilliant, creative and heartwarming, this tale is a tale of bravery, of trust and perseverance. It is a tale of honesty and the courage it takes to take a stand against an evil that threatens humanity, as well as the planet. Colorful and youthful characters come together with resourceful ideas and the adults of their community actually LISTEN. Delightful reading geared to all ages or family sharing, lessons to be learned and an adventure to live alongside the characters. I received a complimentary ARC edition from Disney Hyperion! This is my honest and voluntary review. Publisher: Disney Hyperion (March 17, 2020) Publication Date: March 17, 2020 Genre: Children's Fantasy | Multigenerational Print Length: 304 pages Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    This was a wonderful surprise story about a girl told in three parts. The first part covers her life with her first family and the lessons she learned from her storytelling father and her secretive group of peaceful folk who live as a close-knit community in a volcano and show respect for nature and her resources. After her village is decimated by the "Takers" she is taken in by a family who lives in the trees and whose village as a whole are just as respectful and caring of natural resources as This was a wonderful surprise story about a girl told in three parts. The first part covers her life with her first family and the lessons she learned from her storytelling father and her secretive group of peaceful folk who live as a close-knit community in a volcano and show respect for nature and her resources. After her village is decimated by the "Takers" she is taken in by a family who lives in the trees and whose village as a whole are just as respectful and caring of natural resources as her first people. However, in contrast, although they are kind they tend to live very independently of their neighbors. When the "Takers" come, Kirra has to revisit memories of her trauma and remember her storytelling talent to help her second people come together as a community to fight for their lives and their land. I absolutely loved this story and ended up reading it from beginning to end in one sitting. As I recall, Dave Matthews is not only a musician, but he is very much a humanitarian and an activist for protecting our planet. Together, this trio has written a wonderful tale of hope that should appeal to many middle school children, as well as older readers. I definitely recommend this story and would definitely read a sequel if they wrote one. Thanks to #DaveMatthews, #CleteBarrettSmith, #NetGalley and #DisneyHyperion for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    Disclaimer: I received an e-arc and a copy of this book from netgalley and the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: If We Were Giants Author: Dave Matthews, Clete Barrett Smith Book Series: Standalone Rating: 4/5 Publication Date: March 3, 2020 Genre: MG Fantasy Recommended Age: 12+ (death, scary moments, kidnapping, environmental activism) Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Pages: 304 Amazon Link Synopsis: Kirra, a curious, agile, and outgoing girl, lives in an idyllic community hidden inside a dorma Disclaimer: I received an e-arc and a copy of this book from netgalley and the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: If We Were Giants Author: Dave Matthews, Clete Barrett Smith Book Series: Standalone Rating: 4/5 Publication Date: March 3, 2020 Genre: MG Fantasy Recommended Age: 12+ (death, scary moments, kidnapping, environmental activism) Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Pages: 304 Amazon Link Synopsis: 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. Review: I thought this was a beautiful story about social activism. The book did well to convey the message of the importance of our environment and can be read by children and adults alike. The book was also well written and had amazing character development. However, I did find that the world building could have been a bit better. Also, the pacing wanes a bit and the time skipping is a bit weird in places. Verdict: A well done novel that’ll make you appreciate nature.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peachy

    Dave Matthews Band were a big deal in my teenage years, and even though they weren't one of my favourite bands, I think I may have listened to Crash Into Me a thousand or more times. When my son asked me to add If We Were Giants to our library queue, I loved the cover, and was intrigued by the synopsis, so I happily added it to our lengthy list. I saw the name Dave Matthews on the front, and although it started me singing that lovely romantic ditty I mentioned, I didn't put two and two together Dave Matthews Band were a big deal in my teenage years, and even though they weren't one of my favourite bands, I think I may have listened to Crash Into Me a thousand or more times. When my son asked me to add If We Were Giants to our library queue, I loved the cover, and was intrigued by the synopsis, so I happily added it to our lengthy list. I saw the name Dave Matthews on the front, and although it started me singing that lovely romantic ditty I mentioned, I didn't put two and two together. It wasn't until we collected the book from the library and I perused the dust jacket, that I was pleasantly surprised. While reading the back flap, I learned that the obviously multidimensional artist, Matthews, and Clete Barrett Smith, a popular children's writer, had collaborated to create this bewildering tale by merging the fantastical stories of their childhood imaginations. If We Were Giants centres around the life, loss and love of our precocious and valiant heroine, Kirra. A storyteller at heart, her life took a sorrowful and dangerous turn that left her unable to find her voice, and use her inherited gifts. As she suffered through 'memory traps' that caused flashbacks which debilitated her and forced her to avoid any reckoning of the trauma she had suffered, I couldn't help but feel that she was living through a type of PTSD. This was one of the aspects of the book that I really appreciated, as I felt this story could be of great use for children who have suffered through damaging experiences. The journey Kirra took to find her strength and return to the brave girl that she had always been, with the support of the loving family that she was fortunate enough to find herself with, was both inspirational and uplifting. We were transported to a well-built world, where the themes of love, family, community, nature, strength and resilience shone through on every page. The prose was as lush and vibrant as the canopy inhabited by the 'Tree Folk' that Kirra helped to bring together, and the monstrous 'Takers' were as frightening as any marauder of humanity's viciously pock-marked past. As a lovely bonus, there were an array of colourful and striking illustrations in the centrefold of the book which really added to the wonder of the tale. My son and I were truly enthralled by this emotional story, and even though it is slated in the age range of 8-12, we both agreed that this was a story that would be enjoyed by anyone over the age of 8.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nicole M. Hewitt

    This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction This book is utterly wonderful! When you were a kid, did y0u ever imagine people living up in the trees or in the base of a volcano or some other place tucked away, hidden by nature? I know I did. Well, the authors of this book take that concept of hidden societies and imagine, what if those hidden worlds were in danger? Kirra’s home has always been safe and peaceful, tucked away in a volcano. Her father’s stories of vo This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction This book is utterly wonderful! When you were a kid, did y0u ever imagine people living up in the trees or in the base of a volcano or some other place tucked away, hidden by nature? I know I did. Well, the authors of this book take that concept of hidden societies and imagine, what if those hidden worlds were in danger? Kirra’s home has always been safe and peaceful, tucked away in a volcano. Her father’s stories of volcano demons have ensured that no one will find them. Until, one day, someone does. Takers come, and they destroy everything Kirra has ever known. She escapes to a society where everyone lives in the trees, and she blocks out everything from her past life, but nowhere is safe forever. There is so much to love about this book—setting is incredibly important, and it’s imagined so vividly, it’s easy to imagine yourself right there, living in a volcano or in the very tops of the trees. Kirra is the type of character almost anyone can relate to. She has a sense of adventure and a curiosity to her. But after her world is destroyed she’s quenched all those old instincts. I found myself connecting to Kirra almost instantly, so when her world falls apart, I felt such complete empathy for her. This book is a very fast-paced read. The mystery of the Takers carries the book along during any parts where there isn’t immediate danger, but there’s definitely enough danger and excitement for any middle grade reader. I was pulled through the story, eager to find out what would happen to Kirra and to learn if she would ever find true happiness again after her village is destroyed. So many moments in this book were magical, but the showdown in the end is spectacularly so! I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone, especially to those of us who love the idea of just a touch of mystery in nature! ***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Rockstar Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

  6. 4 out of 5

    Judy Beetem

    First off, Dave Matthews?! Of course I requested an ARC of this book and I was delighted. If We Were Giants is a great story. It opens on Kirra and her "Paja" Taro as they travel from town to town entering storytelling festivals to spread stories about the demons in their volcano home to keep outsiders away. At their last stop an agitated visitor speaks out about the Takers - horrible people who arrived on huge ships, overran the villages and enslaved the people. No one really believes this coul First off, Dave Matthews?! Of course I requested an ARC of this book and I was delighted. If We Were Giants is a great story. It opens on Kirra and her "Paja" Taro as they travel from town to town entering storytelling festivals to spread stories about the demons in their volcano home to keep outsiders away. At their last stop an agitated visitor speaks out about the Takers - horrible people who arrived on huge ships, overran the villages and enslaved the people. No one really believes this could happen on their idyllic world, but Kirra and her father hurry home. It turns out they actually live in the volcano with the other Zeduan people who have created a culture of peace, and harmony with each other as well as with the natural world. Kirra eavesdrops on her parents then heads off with her brother to do some recon for herself. Of course things do not go as planned and what follows is a harrowing tale of capture and escape, then attack as the Takers attack the Zedu and wipe out the entire village. Kirra wakes up in the care of the Tree People who are soon facing the same dangers of attack from the Takers. Kirra helps her new family to work together and devise a plan to save their world from the monstrous intruders. I was really impressed with the imaginative setting and characters the authors have created. The story was well written so it was easy visualize the action and the settings which were skillfully crafted. Kirra is a very strong, resourcesful character - middle school children, especially girls, will adore her. There is also a great message of caring for people and the world around you and working together to protect them. This was an all around excellent book. I appreciate the chance to read the ARC and will highly recommend it. I hope that Matthews and Smith continue to produce more stories of a similar vein.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kim McGee

    Kirra lives in a dormant volcano with her family and friends in a quiet, private community. She hopes to become a storyteller like her father acting as his assistant while they travel to local lands. Life is peaceful until a group of warrior-like people invade her home leaving destruction and violence in their wake. Kirra, now alone, runs until she is found by another quiet group who live in the trees. Sadly, the Takers, will find them as well and Kirra must face her biggest fears and challenge. Kirra lives in a dormant volcano with her family and friends in a quiet, private community. She hopes to become a storyteller like her father acting as his assistant while they travel to local lands. Life is peaceful until a group of warrior-like people invade her home leaving destruction and violence in their wake. Kirra, now alone, runs until she is found by another quiet group who live in the trees. Sadly, the Takers, will find them as well and Kirra must face her biggest fears and challenge. She must become a true storyteller and share what happened to her people and what the Takers are capable of and find a way to stop them. This middle grade story will resonate with young social activists who worry about a world they will soon inherit that may be stripped of natural resources. It is a message that all of us should heed and perhaps this will inspire other young storytellers to share. I was not sure of how well a songwriter such as Dave Matthews would do writing middle grade but his storytelling skills are fantastic. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Creya

    Yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking... THAT Dave Matthews. The tale follows Kirra, a young girl who lives in the wilderness. When her community is attacked by a group of Takers, she is faced with unending guilt and despair. How can she make things right while continuing to honor everything she has lost? We learn a lot about forming relationships, respecting others, and speaking out. I will be interested to see whether Disney decides to develop this into a film. The recommended age range of 8-1 Yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking... THAT Dave Matthews. The tale follows Kirra, a young girl who lives in the wilderness. When her community is attacked by a group of Takers, she is faced with unending guilt and despair. How can she make things right while continuing to honor everything she has lost? We learn a lot about forming relationships, respecting others, and speaking out. I will be interested to see whether Disney decides to develop this into a film. The recommended age range of 8-12 seemed appropriate.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    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 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. ** I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review ** Favorite line: "It's the people in a house that matter, not the house or the possessions. Never the things."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Niederer

    I loved this imaginative middle school novel about a girl who lives in a village in a volcano. She travels with her father, who is a story teller, until they encounter a group of warriors, whose main goal is to destroy villages. What happens from here is loss, journeys, another battle with the warriors, and a beautiful villages who comes together when the time is right. Dave Matthews, what an amazing story!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Garland Public Library

    Such a great story!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Miya (pain at a peak, excuse slow responses)

    What a fun an meaningful adventure! I read this with my kids, and we all loved it. The kids kept wanting to know more and more. They were so interested in the story. I enjoyed it as well! Big plus on the nature loving in here! Great for kids and adults!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    I'm gonna read the Authors notes.this story began to take shape Wild I was living in New Orleans I found inspiration in the branches of the beautiful live oaks in That lay in the streets and filled the parks I have always loved being in the woods as a kid I spent day is climbing trees and playing in the force around my home in New York state I pretended I'd find secret communities of people I've never seen by the outside world I used to feel like the forest was watching me because Because of my I'm gonna read the Authors notes.this story began to take shape Wild I was living in New Orleans I found inspiration in the branches of the beautiful live oaks in That lay in the streets and filled the parks I have always loved being in the woods as a kid I spent day is climbing trees and playing in the force around my home in New York state I pretended I'd find secret communities of people I've never seen by the outside world I used to feel like the forest was watching me because Because of my parents I grew up in different parts of the world primarily in new north America and South Africa I think my love of nature came from all the time we spent enjoying the unspoiled wilderness in the hospitality of the people who lived there I admire communities that managed to live in balance with nature and their infinite lessons to be learned from these people I'm marvel at other's communities that can be found in wilderness too The complexities that evolved are Outstanding the Bivouac Or army ants are a good example of a seemingly impossible adaptation For survival the entire community the queen the eggs the workers and the soldiers all live in a colony made entirely out of their own living bodies Blinking your legs they created huge or trust protector population from harm at a moments notice they can unlocked your legs and move on I imagine what it would be like if humans were able to be like those army ants what if the small people of my childhood dreams cause link arms and become bigger and stronger and safer it was a New Orleans that I begin to think up the characters in the story and how they might triumph over Adversity I working together I to my friends They all told me to write it down My tale of the little people who became giants the more people like told t My tale of the little people who became giants the more people like told the more I felt my story was worth telling that's My tale of the little people who became giants the more people like told the more I felt my story was worth telling that's where came in he made my vision come alive with convincing Distinctive characters Out of my twigs and leaves he constructed a fully realized world in which people can live in dormant volcanoes or villages or giant trees Patiently listen to my rambling Turn them into a project I'm grateful to be a part of And proud To share with you He's a beautiful storyteller this book would simply never have been written where it not for him I hope it inspires you to dream too _Dave Matthews When I was a kid I would hike through the forest of the pacific northwest and make up fantastical stories The most recurring idea from those walks was that there was an entire society hidden in the upper boughs Of the trees I was fascinated by the possibilities how did the community get there and why what did the inhabitants Look like how did their secret village operate I spent hours scanning the tree tops trying to catch a glimpse of them I never wrote that story but I happened to mention the idea 1 day when I was having lunch with my wonderful editor Stephanie lerry I'm mad in the thrill when she called me Years later and invited me to collaborate with a storyteller who had a project that included part of his premise Imagine my further thrill When she called me years later invited me to collaborate with a storyteller who had A project that included part of this premise Imagine my further thrill when that person turned out to be Dave Matthews finally I would get to dive into this idea that had long fast And then over dinner with Dave I learned that his vision also included an epic tale about love and lost betrayal and redemption and what it means to live in true community with others Including all the Accompanying struggles and joys It felt like not only a fun story but also an important 1 I was all in Dave was collaborative And creative and kind on every step of this journey I remain awed Buy this passion for imaginative projects So many people Around the world have enjoyed the creativity he has to offer I'm excited for them to get to experiences story and so grateful to have been a part Of it _clete smith. THE END

  14. 4 out of 5

    BreeAnn (She Just Loves Books)

    What I Loved: The weaving of so many wonderful topics to discuss with a child made this book an utter delight! There are so many strong messages about our world, our resources, and our actions. I cannot wait for my son to read it so we can discuss it together! How I Felt: The Characters: Wow! I loved Kirra and her strength throughout this entire book! Her resolve at saving her second family and their community were wonderful! She is a role model for a young reader, showing right from wrong, and goo What I Loved: The weaving of so many wonderful topics to discuss with a child made this book an utter delight! There are so many strong messages about our world, our resources, and our actions. I cannot wait for my son to read it so we can discuss it together! How I Felt: The Characters: Wow! I loved Kirra and her strength throughout this entire book! Her resolve at saving her second family and their community were wonderful! She is a role model for a young reader, showing right from wrong, and good from evil. The Writing: If We Were Giants created a lush and vibrant world with excellent descriptions of Kirra and her surroundings. The story moved well from one scene to the next, making it an easy read. I really appreciated the depth of this story. It is a fantasy but also managed to delve into some deep topics. The Plot: Kirra lives with her family in a volcano surrounded by a community of peaceful, neighborly people. Her life is a happy one as she learns about utilizing the resources available to her and about respecting nature. When the Takers come, she loses everything in the blink of an eye. Orphaned and homeless, she is accepted by a family in a new community. She finds that this group of people cares for nature the way her family had. They are, however, less neighborly. As the Takers come to invade her new home, Kirra must teach her new family to work together as a group to save themselves and their home. Content Warnings: Loss of family. Overall: I found If We Were Giants to be a wonderful, well-written story with a great focus on nature and our natural resources. To Read or Not To Read: I would recommend If We Were Giants for any middle-grade reader that enjoys a fantasy story. This would be a great book for a classroom or at home! I was provided an advanced reader's copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily. My review will post to my blog on 3/5/20. All of my reviews can be found at https://shejustlovesbooks.com/

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alysia

    Little voices can have a huge impact. Dear Dave Matthews, As a DMB superfan I’ve always been mesmerized by your talent of musical storytelling. And now, you’ve blown me away with your literary storytelling in this fantastic juvenile fiction book If We Were Giants. Thank you for writing this special book and for sharing your gifts with young readers. In this book, when 10 year old Kirra’s community of volcano dwellers is destroyed by outsiders called The Takers, she is forced to flee and live amon Little voices can have a huge impact. Dear Dave Matthews, As a DMB superfan I’ve always been mesmerized by your talent of musical storytelling. And now, you’ve blown me away with your literary storytelling in this fantastic juvenile fiction book If We Were Giants. Thank you for writing this special book and for sharing your gifts with young readers. In this book, when 10 year old Kirra’s community of volcano dwellers is destroyed by outsiders called The Takers, she is forced to flee and live among the tree dwellers. Kirra is able to adapt to the tree dwelling way of life, however The Takers soon begin to pose a threat to her new community. Will Kirra and her friends be able to protect their community before more harm is done by these outsiders? Let me start by saying that I can’t wait to read this book to my students! Not only is it a fantastic story, but there are so many themes woven in that will make for some great class discussions. Themes like trauma, choices, community, confidence, standing up for what you believe in, and the power of working together. Parents and teachers of upper grade students, I highly recommend this book for your kids! Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for the digital ARC in exchange for my honest review!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This is an exciting book about a girl who lives in the crater of a dormant volcano with her family and community. Aside from her father, the storyteller, and Kirra (who is learning to be a storyteller like him), her people don't leave the crater. They cooperate and live happily together. Then the Takers come. Kirra has heard about them and sneaks out to catch a glimpse and maybe begin to weave stories of her own about them. But her brother follows her and while they are spying on the newcomers, h This is an exciting book about a girl who lives in the crater of a dormant volcano with her family and community. Aside from her father, the storyteller, and Kirra (who is learning to be a storyteller like him), her people don't leave the crater. They cooperate and live happily together. Then the Takers come. Kirra has heard about them and sneaks out to catch a glimpse and maybe begin to weave stories of her own about them. But her brother follows her and while they are spying on the newcomers, he slips and falls and is caught by them. The Takers were armor of leather and metal. They carry weapons Kirra has not seen before. And they threaten her brother. She creates a distraction and manages to save him, only to lead the Takers back to the volcano. While she watches from the safety of the trees, her community is destroyed. She runs and jumps into a river, hoping it will be the end. Kirra awakens to a family who lives in the treetops far from her home. They care for her and she stays with them, never telling them about her past. And one day, the Takers are seen and only she knows what they are capable of. Can she face up to the guilt she feels? Will she tell people about her past? What will she do to save this new community from the Takers? My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tierney Chabot

    To be honest I bought this book because I am a long time fan of Dave Matthews. My family read this book for at home school read aloud time. My girls, 11 & 9, greatly enjoyed the characters and the world. Several good discussions were had during the course of this book including the idea of whether people really eat crocodiles/alligators.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    My students are going to love this adventure filled fantasy! Each chapter in this book ends leaving you wanting more, which made for a quick read. I loved imagining living inside a dormant volcano, or in the canopy of trees.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melody Riggs

    Cute story about the importance of doing life in community. Plus, I couldn't pass up the chance to read something by Dave Matthews. The story idea was his and Smith helped to bring it to literary life. Cute story about the importance of doing life in community. Plus, I couldn't pass up the chance to read something by Dave Matthews. The story idea was his and Smith helped to bring it to literary life.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sydney.G

    I think the theme of this book would be to stand up for what is right

  21. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Cute story about the importance of community and storytelling. I was only interested in it initially because Dave Matthews wrote it...but it was a good story and I'd read more by him should he focus more on book writing. I will say that there are some awkward moments but it's a good first novel. Cute story about the importance of community and storytelling. I was only interested in it initially because Dave Matthews wrote it...but it was a good story and I'd read more by him should he focus more on book writing. I will say that there are some awkward moments but it's a good first novel.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I just couldn't get into it. I skimmed it all to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Sorry. I just couldn't get into it. I skimmed it all to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Sorry.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gregg Casper

    This was an awesome book! It would be a great read aloud. Great story of working together to solve a problem.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    (Thank you to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for a digital ARC of this book!) This was an interesting tale about a young girl, Kirra, whose family belongs to a tight-knit community hidden away in a dormant volcano, where every member has a specific job, and they all depend upon each other for survival. Only Kirra and her father are allowed to go beyond the community into the outside world, as there are tales about a group of  “Takers” who take and destroy existing communities. Curious to find out (Thank you to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for a digital ARC of this book!) This was an interesting tale about a young girl, Kirra, whose family belongs to a tight-knit community hidden away in a dormant volcano, where every member has a specific job, and they all depend upon each other for survival. Only Kirra and her father are allowed to go beyond the community into the outside world, as there are tales about a group of  “Takers” who take and destroy existing communities. Curious to find out more and defying the order to never leave on her own, Kirra ventures out on her own - and unknowingly leads the Takers back to her home. They destroy her village and everything she’s ever known. She is luckily rescued by Luwan, a young adventurous boy from another community; however, Kirra’s sadness and guilt leave her withdrawn and quiet. One day when Luwan’s adventures lead him to trouble from the very group who destroyed Kirra’s first community, Kirra is faced with overcoming her inner demons in order to save the people who saved her many years before. While I thought the book was engaging and had some really important themes, something about the writing style of the first half seemed a bit choppy and it was hard to fully immerse myself in. Part of me wishes this book had been turned into a series, with one or two shorter books in it. I also found myself turned off by the way in which the Takers spoke - the broken English seemed a bit like it was making fun of Indigenous People…? (I'd really like to hear from other readers once the book is out about this point...) In the end, this was not one of my favorite books ever, but I do think there are a lot of topics in the book that could lead to great discussions with children (such as overcoming loss, embracing different communities, and living peacefully in nature).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    I received an electronic ARC from Disney Book Group through NetGalley. Matthews has written a statement book to make young, and not so young, people think about how they get along with others. The book is divided into three parts to tell the story of Kirra's life. Part one offers her life with her birth family. This is a community living in harmony. They unite together and each member has a role that supports the entire group. Life is peaceful until a group simply known as the Takers finds their h I received an electronic ARC from Disney Book Group through NetGalley. Matthews has written a statement book to make young, and not so young, people think about how they get along with others. The book is divided into three parts to tell the story of Kirra's life. Part one offers her life with her birth family. This is a community living in harmony. They unite together and each member has a role that supports the entire group. Life is peaceful until a group simply known as the Takers finds their hidden community and completely destroys it. She is the only survivor. She runs from her memories and nearly drowns. Part two picks up with her new life after a young boy near her age rescues her from the river. It's a distinctly different style of community as there is little interaction among families. Most have fled to the trees to escape and so have little trust. Again, their lifestyle continues until the Takers discover their area. Kirra draws on her strength to cope with her hidden memories and share her story with the entire community. She and her friends present a plan to battle the Takers when they return in the dry season. Part three picks up with the battle preparations and the battle itself. at the end, Kirra has found peace and is setting out to fulfill her destiny as a storyteller. She combines the gifts she has found in both of her family settings. The story flows smoothly with shorter chapters to keep readers interested. The underlying themes come through as readers learn more about Kirra and the other characters.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dian Beatty

    I really loved this heart-warming story with themes of family, loss, community, and being one with nature. Kirra, 10, lives hidden in a dormant volcano, where the people of Zedu have lived for hundreds of years. Helping as a storyteller, she and her father spread stories that instill fear of the volcano in neighboring communities to keep their community a safe secret. Unfortunately, a curious Kirra accidentally leads a clan of predators known only as Takers back to Zedu. Kirra is the only surviv I really loved this heart-warming story with themes of family, loss, community, and being one with nature. Kirra, 10, lives hidden in a dormant volcano, where the people of Zedu have lived for hundreds of years. Helping as a storyteller, she and her father spread stories that instill fear of the volcano in neighboring communities to keep their community a safe secret. Unfortunately, a curious Kirra accidentally leads a clan of predators known only as Takers back to Zedu. Kirra is the only survivor of the ensuing battle, and she takes full responsibility for the destruction of her community. 4 years later the Takers come to the community that took her in as one of their own, the Tree People. Kirra must now use her storytelling abilities to convince the community of Tree People to work together and fight against the Takers, while also facing her worst fears. Although there is tragedy, the ultimate story is full of hope and Disney-like magic. It’s paced well and I loved reading about the new worlds created in the novel. Full of characters to love and hatable villains.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sammie

    You can read my full review on my blog, The Bookwyrm's Den, here. Many thanks to RockStar Book Tour and Disney-Hyperion for a finished copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. When I saw this was co-written by Dave Matthews, I figured it was a Dave Matthews, not the Dave Matthews. It’s not often that I’m happy to be wrong, but this was definitely one of those times. If We Were Giants is a gorgeous coming-of-age tale of a young girl with PTSD who learns to overcome her fear of the past t You can read my full review on my blog, The Bookwyrm's Den, here. Many thanks to RockStar Book Tour and Disney-Hyperion for a finished copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. When I saw this was co-written by Dave Matthews, I figured it was a Dave Matthews, not the Dave Matthews. It’s not often that I’m happy to be wrong, but this was definitely one of those times. If We Were Giants is a gorgeous coming-of-age tale of a young girl with PTSD who learns to overcome her fear of the past to embrace the possibility of a new future. Guaranteed to unravel a few heartstrings along the way. I was honestly expecting a little more action going into this, and there was some, but where the book really shines is the struggle and growth in the characters. The message of the story was every bit as beautiful as the world that Matthews and Smith paint. I for sure wouldn’t mind a visit there. My Thoughts: - The story opens on Kirra’s father, a storyteller, and Kirra learning to follow in his footsteps, and the narrative unfolds as Kirra finds the strength to tell her own story. This was such a freaking powerful thing. I’ve always been a fan of this sort of structure, especially since when you come from a broken background, telling your story is freaking hard. It takes courage and strength and all sorts of things that are difficult to discover in yourself, and Kirra is no exception. This is definitely more of a character-driven book, and the plot sometimes feels absent or takes a back seat to the character growth. I do like how the arc turned out in the end. It was a bit slow in some places getting there, but the ride was worth it, and there was a definite payoff. - This story is chock full of amazing kids doing amazing things … but most of all, being able to dream big. Middle grade is rife with books where kids save the day, as you might expect, and this is no exception. But gosh was it so easy to root for these kids. What I loved about this is that these kids don’t have superpowers or magic or anything like that. So what do they use to save their people? Their brains. What an amazing thing. Even more than that, the kids end up being empowered to just do the things they love, and once they embrace that, the saving the day part becomes so much easier. - In this, Kirra suffers from PTSD and panic attacks, and I thought this was handled in a very thoughtful manner. Mostly, Kirra practices avoidance, staying away from what she calls Memory Traps—things that evoke a strong reminder of her family or anything that happened previously. When she can’t avoid the Memory Traps, though, she has a major panic attack. While I have experience with neither, so I can’t really comment on how true they are to real life, I appreciated the recognition of Kirra’s trauma and her familiar avoidance patterns. - There are so many poignant lessons in this that can bridge into some really important discussions with middle-grade readers. I would even suggest it’d make for a good classroom or group read, to launch into some discussion points. The lessons in it are fairly universal, too. As I was reading, it was just so easy to see where some amazing discussions could be had, and I was actually curious about a mid-grader’s point of view on some of the events. Sticking Points: - This is totally a me thing, but ugh, open endings in standalones drive me bonkers. I’m a nosy little onion who wants to know what happens next, dang it. I want a clean break, especially with a standalone, since I know this will be the one and only time I get to fall into this world, and I don’t want that incessant niggling of, well, what’s next? There is no next. That’s it. You have to fill in the rest of the blanks yourself. Some people love open endings, and if you do, this ending will work really well for you, because the implications were amazing and there’s so much that can be done with them. It’s just really not my thing.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mark Buxton

    My name is Kirra, and I know I made a horrible mistake four years ago. I have foggy visions of a volcano and something large moving through the trees, but my mind won't allow me to remember. I now live with the Tree Folk, but I'm still vaguely aware something tragic happened back then. It's terrifying when I feel the Memory Trap starting to creep into my head. I can't let it. The families here in the trees live apart and are reluctant to share with each other. The strangeness of it reminds me th My name is Kirra, and I know I made a horrible mistake four years ago. I have foggy visions of a volcano and something large moving through the trees, but my mind won't allow me to remember. I now live with the Tree Folk, but I'm still vaguely aware something tragic happened back then. It's terrifying when I feel the Memory Trap starting to creep into my head. I can't let it. The families here in the trees live apart and are reluctant to share with each other. The strangeness of it reminds me that I'm an Outsider. My "brother" is adventurous but has been forbidden from crossing the river. I'm not sure that will stop him but the rumors might. Giant hunters have been sighted on our side of the river. The Memory Trap reminds me they should be feared. The plot shared Kirra's ongoing conflict with the Takers, sometimes physical and sometimes mental. A commonality between her two communities was they both strove to live in isolation. Her first family secretly lived atop a dormant volcano, and her second family lived hidden among the trees. In contrast, one culture was seeded with cooperation, while the other valued independence. As hinted above, much of the story focused on Kirra dealing with the loss of her parents and brother. Her mind was in denial and did all it could to avoid the pain of remembering until Kirra was finally forced to deal with it. She also felt tremendous guilt and was afraid to let anyone know. Her own sense of adventure was erased following her tragic past. The emotions behind the story were what enhanced the conflict and made it more engaging. Ironically, or perhaps not, Kirra was being trained to become the village Storyteller when the book began. She was aware of the importance of eliciting emotions in order to truly entertain her audience. Overall, I enjoyed the book and recommend you give it a shot. I'm not sure what's in the works, but the door was left open for a sequel.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lenoire

    Kirra and her family live with the rest of her clan inside a dormant volcano. She is curious about the world that exists beyond their own. She and her father are the only two people allowed to venture out of their community. Kirra is training to become a Storyteller like her father. The pair travels from village to village to spread scary stories to keep people away from their homes. On their last journey, Kirra hears a story about the "Takers". She is curious to know more and ventures out to le Kirra and her family live with the rest of her clan inside a dormant volcano. She is curious about the world that exists beyond their own. She and her father are the only two people allowed to venture out of their community. Kirra is training to become a Storyteller like her father. The pair travels from village to village to spread scary stories to keep people away from their homes. On their last journey, Kirra hears a story about the "Takers". She is curious to know more and ventures out to learn more about them. However, she unwittingly leads the Takers back to her home. Kirra ends up losing everything she holds dear. In the aftermath, she is found by a child named Luwan. She is adopted by his family and becomes a part of their Tree Folk clan. Afraid of the past, Kirra keeps to herself and hides her past from everyone. She no longers wants to leave the safety of home to find new adventures. Luwan loves to explore and he is captured when he went spying on a group of strangers. Kirra realizes the Takers have returned and she must face her inner demons if she wants to protect those she loves. The novel was a fun and emotional read. I love the graphic photos that were included but, I wished they were included with the story instead of a section in the book. The main character was a fierce child who learned the values of loss, community, and forgiveness. I am hoping they turn this book into a series. I am excited to see Kirra grow and forge her own stories.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Dave Matthews was the draw for me on this book to begin with. The story itself captivated me and kept me reading. The adventure begins when Kirra is 10; she travels "outside" with her father and knows she wants to be just like him when she grows up. Her natural curiosity causes a chain of events which drastically alter her world and the secure life she has always known is forever changed. Four years after tragedy shook her world, a much more subdued Kirra encounters danger again and she has to l Dave Matthews was the draw for me on this book to begin with. The story itself captivated me and kept me reading. The adventure begins when Kirra is 10; she travels "outside" with her father and knows she wants to be just like him when she grows up. Her natural curiosity causes a chain of events which drastically alter her world and the secure life she has always known is forever changed. Four years after tragedy shook her world, a much more subdued Kirra encounters danger again and she has to learn to trust herself and her abilities in order to keep her loved ones safe once more. The is a glance at a fantastical world of a peaceful world before greed and violence take over; sort of a land before time. People had to reply one each other and the natural world to keep them safe and harmonious. Nature was to be lived within; to use what was necessary and to leave the rest behind. There is a message for readers about what happens when people within communities living together with respect and compassion for the world. It is also about the fight to keep at bay outside forces who wish to take more than is needed through violence and excessive aggression. It is written for middle grade readers, and can teach the value of community and living harmoniously with nature. There is adventure to be discovered through this cautionary tale, and I can see the appeal to a variety of young readers.

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