The Legend of the Dream Giants

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Pub Date 08 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 22 Mar 2022

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Description

An orphaned giant named Berg is in search of just one person he can call friend.

When he was very young, Berg’s mother hid him in a cave and led an angry mob of villagers away, sacrificing her own life to protect her son. In all the years since, Berg has lived alone, the only reminders of his family are his mother’s satchel and his recurring dreams of a white bear who shares a magical sand from a fallen star. When the white bear touches Berg with the star-blue sand, he feels safe and happy in his dreams. Sometimes, when he feels lonely, he will risk entering a village to trade a smooth river rock or a feather for food. He’s really searching for kindness, companionship, and, maybe one day, someone who will want to get to know him and be his friend. But with every attempt he makes, people only see his massive size and cruelly chase him away, thinking he is Ünhold—a giant and a monster. Whoever this Ünhold is, Berg also fears him and hopes they never meet.

In his travels, Berg comes upon a new town, a city made of iron where blacksmiths construct all kinds of ironworks from gates to sculptures to chains and weapons. Berg meets a little girl, Anya, who doesn’t run and scream in fear like everyone else does. To his amazement and delight, Anya knows about the dream-sand and says she wants to be his friend.

The mayor convinces the villagers of the benefit of having a giant around who can protect their city from the dangers he says Ünhold has in store for them. Anya has learned about the dream-sand from secretly watching Ünhold use it to trade for food and trinkets, and she suspects the mayor is planning something different than what he says. Fearing the city isn’t safe for Berg, she warns her giant friend to flee. When a secret plot is revealed to capture Berg, the young giant has to figure out where he can place his trust.

The story follows Berg on his journey and is told through text and graphic novel-style illustrations of beautiful dream sequences that reveal Berg’s hopes and memories. Berg’s mother appears to him in his dreams as a white bear, patient, nurturing and protective, and he sees himself as a little bear cub. Berg is often unsure what exactly the dreams mean, but sometimes they describe things which are about to happen or give him answers to problems he is facing.

This tender and unique story-within-a-story is a riveting tale of loss, longing, adventure, being yourself, and finding the true meaning of friendship.
An orphaned giant named Berg is in search of just one person he can call friend.

When he was very young, Berg’s mother hid him in a cave and led an angry mob of villagers away, sacrificing her own...

Advance Praise

"A young giant finds both friendship and duplicity in The Legend of the Dream Giants, a beautiful illustrated novel by Dustin Hansen. Whimsical and poetic, the book’s descriptions of natural settings evince grace and originality. Its metaphors and similes are drawn from Berg’s experiences growing up in the wild. Berg’s dreams involve a mother bear and her cub, along with other animals. The dreams are depicted in wonderful, wordless grayscale drawings; they serve as a compelling, independent story within the story, and their relevance to Berg becomes clear as the book progresses. Berg himself is a sympathetic, misunderstood underdog who, despite his size, is very much an innocent. Elegant throughout, The Legend of the Dream Giants is a touching, memorable tale about trust, betrayal, and love."

—Foreword Reviews, Starred Review


"Berg come(s) to terms with the coexistence of humankind’s darkness and sweetness and the age-old truth that things are not always what they seem. Hansen has created a compelling world that gives the feel of an old-fashioned fairy tale coupled with beautiful, black-and-white illustrations that contain echoes of the art nouveau era. These depictions of bears and wolves tell the story of Berg’s dreams, representing the quiet power of giants and the vicious persistence of humans. This artwork is stunning and heavy with emotion. Berg’s friendship with Anya is heartwarming and heartbreaking, as is his relationship to Ünhold. Hansen’s lilting writing has the feel of an epic poem, a tale of growing wise and of learning how to both hold on and let go. A moving and evocative must-read."

—Kirkus, Starred Review

"A young giant finds both friendship and duplicity in The Legend of the Dream Giants, a beautiful illustrated novel by Dustin Hansen. Whimsical and poetic, the book’s descriptions of natural settings...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781629729862
PRICE $18.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 18 members


Featured Reviews

An enjoyable fantasy with lots of imagination, creativity, and heart. Beautiful illustrations that help the reader envision the world alongside Dustin Hansen’s words. Sure to capture young readers’ attention.

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The Legend of the Dream Giants is a fantasy novel about a lonely young giant named Berg. The book follows Berg as he wanders from town to town and is chased away from each by frightened humans who mistake him for a different giant. One day Berg comes to a city he is allowed to stay in, but in return is manipulated by the unscrupulous mayor. The writing style is beautiful but may be too difficult for younger readers. The book also has lovely illustrations. I liked how it drops the reader right into the world without spending time establishing rules for the magic or explaining the fantasy elements as it makes the story more immersive. While Berg suffers a lot of hardship, I think this is ultimately a hopeful story. Overall this is a great option for anyone who enjoys middle grade fantasy.

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#TheLegendOfTheDreamGiants #NetGalley

This fantasy book, is categorized as a book for middle readers. I would change that to teen.
Berg is an orphaned giant who is lonely and wants a friend. Berg travels from town to town, hunting for food. When Berg, arrives in a town where he seems to be accepted, and he has a new friend Anya, he soon realizes that all is not as it appears Did he put his trust in the wrong person?. This book is very dark and has some older themes running through it.

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This is a beautifully written fairytale from the perspective of a lonely boy-giant who very desperately wants to be accepted by people and not seen as a monster. In some ways it reminds me of J.K. Rowling’s The Ickabog. Mostly because it deals with similar themes and has a very fairytale quality to it. I love a good theme, especially if it’s offered in a thought-provoking context with ample discussion-ability. That is the mark of a good book to me. And while this is a sad, dark tale, it has that in spades.

It didn’t take me long to read this book. I wanted so much to find out what would happen to young Berg, the lonely giant. Would he be able to find the truth, despite the misinformation flying about everywhere? Would he be able to understand who his true friends were and that kindness sometime means manipulation? These are things most humans grapple with at some point in life, particularly when young and trying to find a place in the world. Ultimately, that is the value in this story. It speaks so well of the human condition.

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I don’t review many middle grade reads, but was intrigued by this one and grabbed it when I had the chance. I loved the short stories that make up this complete book, I liked the themes of friendship and trust. The pictures make this book really fun for all ages. There are some heartbreaking topics in here for the more tender hearted kids, so if that’s the kind of kid you have—I would recommend this as a read together kind of book with lots of open discussion.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the copy. All thoughts in this review are my own.

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Synopsis

Since losing his mother, Berg is a lone giant who survives by secretly trading forest jewels for whatever food he can scrounge.

With the human population terrified of the legend of Ünhold the Giant, Berg is also feared by association. Chased and hunted, he is consigned to a life of isolation.

When he finds an opportunity to stay with a town of ironmongers, Berg finally feels accepted. He befriends the young Anya, the first human to see him for who he is, and becomes the town’s night watchman. Yet something seems amiss when Berg is continuously placed in chains by the too-friendly town mayor and Ünhold has been frequently sighted …

Review

The Legend of the Dream Giants is a tale of isolation, loss, and finding one’s place in the world. It’s moving and poignant. It’s cruel. It’s beautiful. It has also received some incredibly unfair reviews.

You see, there’s not really a happily-ever-after here, not so much as Berg hopes for at the start of the story. Desperate to make any form of connection, he is soon exploited by the overfriendly mayor despite warnings from newfound friends. Berg, so desperate from loneliness, refuses to see he is being manipulated and it’s heartbreaking to see unfold.

And yet this is what makes the book such an engaging read. It doesn’t sugarcoat its themes of loss and loneliness. Berg mourns deeply for his mother through the prose and a series of dream illustrations Hansen has created, where Berg sees himself represented as a bear cub. The sacrifices characters make in the book carry weight and there will be many readers who identify with Berg’s grief and his longing to fit in and be accepted.

The book has received criticism for being too sad for its intended readership but I strongly disagree with this. The Legend of the Dream Giants is pure and wonderful. When Berg feels joy, we too are right there with him. When the inevitable happens, we cry with him too. I think this is important for young readers especially.

Berg’s journey throughout the book into acceptance of who and what he is makes the conclusion all the more satisfying. He has grown (physically I think he also grows about 6 feet or so over the course of the story) and I think we’ve grown along with him. It sends a powerful message.

Conclusion

If you want to give yourself a real good smack in the feels, you’re not going to go wrong with this one. Don’t listen to the “it’s too sad” criticism. It’s supposed to be sad. Nobody in Berg’s situation is going to be skipping through the woods and singing like a Disney princess but this is a heartfelt fable with a pure message and has been a really enjoyable surprise for 2022.

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Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Legend of the Dream Giants

Author: Dustin Hansen

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Recommended For...: middle grade, children, fantasy

Publication Date: March 8, 2022

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Recommended Age: 11+ (scary moments, grief, death, violence)

Explanation of CWs: There are some scary moments that might not be appropriate for some young readers. Themes of grief and death are explored. There is also some slight violence.

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Pages: 240

Synopsis: When he was very young, Berg’s mother hid him in a cave and led an angry mob of villagers away, sacrificing her own life to protect her son. In all the years since, Berg has lived alone, the only reminders of his family are his mother’s satchel and his recurring dreams of a white bear who shares a magical sand from a fallen star. When the white bear touches Berg with the star-blue sand, he feels safe and happy in his dreams. Sometimes, when he feels lonely, he will risk entering a village to trade a smooth river rock or a feather for food. He’s really searching for kindness, companionship, and, maybe one day, someone who will want to get to know him and be his friend. But with every attempt he makes, people only see his massive size and cruelly chase him away, thinking he is Ünhold—a giant and a monster. Whoever this Ünhold is, Berg also fears him and hopes they never meet.

In his travels, Berg comes upon a new town, a city made of iron where blacksmiths construct all kinds of ironworks from gates to sculptures to chains and weapons. Berg meets a little girl, Anya, who doesn’t run and scream in fear like everyone else does. To his amazement and delight, Anya knows about the dream-sand and says she wants to be his friend.

The mayor convinces the villagers of the benefit of having a giant around who can protect their city from the dangers he says Ünhold has in store for them. Anya has learned about the dream-sand from secretly watching Ünhold use it to trade for food and trinkets, and she suspects the mayor is planning something different than what he says. Fearing the city isn’t safe for Berg, she warns her giant friend to flee. When a secret plot is revealed to capture Berg, the young giant has to figure out where he can place his trust.

The story follows Berg on his journey and is told through text and graphic novel-style illustrations of beautiful dream sequences that reveal Berg’s hopes and memories. Berg’s mother appears to him in his dreams as a white bear, patient, nurturing and protective, and he sees himself as a little bear cub. Berg is often unsure what exactly the dreams mean, but sometimes they describe things which are about to happen or give him answers to problems he is facing.

This tender and unique story-within-a-story is a riveting tale of loss, longing, adventure, being yourself, and finding the true meaning of friendship.

Review: For the most part this book was ok. It did good to set up some themes of grief and death, but also kindness and courage. The book is gorgeous with beautiful illustrations and great character development. The book also has a fairytale feel to it.

However, the book is very sad. It’s a really upsetting story and I don’t think it would be appropriate for some children like how I don’t think that The Giving Tree is appropriate for some children as well. Some of the themes are great, and maybe if you are trying to prepare the child for grief and death it would be good, but this probably wouldn’t be a book you should pick out for a bedtime story. However, you know your children better than I do so please read the book and decide how it would be best for your children.

Verdict: It was ok.

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Story about friendship and being true to yourself

More than anything, the lonely giant Berg wants to belong. He’s really just a kid, and his mother was killed, leaving him all alone in the world. The people in the nearby towns are afraid of Berg and attack him if he comes near because they think he’s Unhold, the dangerous monster from their legends. They don’t give him the chance to show that he is generous, kind, and helpful at heart.

Berg misunderstands other people’s feelings and actions leading him to trust or not trust the wrong people. He also chooses to accept being mistreated because he feels it is better than being alone. Berg faces death, loss, manipulation, deceit, multiple attacks and threats on his life, and constant loneliness. However, he also finds a true friend in a young girl named Anya and receives help from an old giant.

This book is a cross between a chapter book and a graphic novel. Very short chapters alternate with a few picture boxes depicting a separate but connected story of a young bear, an adult bear, and stars. It is very sad, but also magical and beautifully written. Even the acknowledgments at the end are lyrical and unique.

I have mixed feelings about this book for children. It is well written with vivid figurative language and kept my attention riveted, but there is a lot of dark content. I recommend using it to discuss with your child what makes a true friend, not letting other people’s opinions of you determine what you do, and not judging people based on their appearance. Thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC to use for my review.

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If you enjoy classic fairy tales this is a story for you to share with your children. It is both lyric and beautiful. It is also sad and delves into some darker themes. Children can read sad things and meet hard topics. They are full of emotions and will absolutely be able to relate to Berg's loneliness, his willingness to let himself be manipulated to try to find a place where he fits, and also friendship. I highly recommend this book be read as a family.

On a side note about the structure of the book I also love how it was put together. The chapters are short and manageable. Interspersed is a comic book style layout of Berg's experience in a dream sequence where he is represented by a bear. The alternating text and picture format will be very engaging for readers. And, if a child is reading it on their own, the shorter chapters will be very manageable - even for slower readers.

The Legend of the Dream Giants gets a strong recommendation from me!

Themes present to note for young readers: loneliness, loss, grief

Thank you @Netgalley and @shadowmountainpub for early access to this ARC in return for an unbiased and voluntary review

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Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

What a delightful book! It is poignant and thougt-provoking. And I LOVE the illustrations.

Berg wants a friend—so much so that he'd give up food to have one. But nobody likes giants. He has such good manners with trading for food too. He doesn't want people to be scared of him, but longs for acceptance. And then he meets a girl, Anya, who isn't afraid of him, but that doesn't mean things are going to work out.

I loved Berg because of his innocence. Anya is spunky and so much fun to read. I kept reading, watching everything unravel, and my heart ached for Berg. His struggles are so touching, and I can see my childhood and. my children's childhood in him.

I feel like The Legend of the Dream Giants is a book I can read again and again. If you have ever felt misunderstood, this is the perfect book for you!

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I really liked the dream-like qualities of this book, which were made even better by the addition of the graphic novel pages which portrayed Berg's dreams. It felt just like reading an old fairytale! I wish we could have learned more about the background of the town, as well as more about the giants themselves, but overall I thought this was a fun read.

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Stars: 5/5

Reading Level: Middle Grade. I highly suggest reading it with your child so you can discuss the themes it brings up like trust, betrayal and love.

This book is about a gentle giant Berg, who wanders the earth alone looking for a friend. People are afraid of him because of their stories of the giant Unhold. He finally finds a friend and a town that, with the urging of the mayor, reluctantly asks him to help guard them. Berg chooses to trust what he’s being told by the mayor, but finds himself doing things that he regrets to keep what he perceives as the town’s friendship. By the end of the book, he realizes who his real friends are. This story is beautifully written and stresses the importance of sacrifice and finding true friends.

I really loved how the beautiful pictures showed Berg’s dreams that usually related to his past, present and future. I really struggled with the awful things that were happening to Berg after he goes to the town, but also recognized that it was an important part of the story. Overall it was a great book!

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Thank you NetGalley for the advance ebook of this book. I plan to purchase it for my school library. It will hit that niche of kids who are read Chris Colfer, Rick Riordan, and JK Rowling.

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