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The Boy Who Ate the World

(and the girl who saved it)

by Don Gillmor
illustrated by Pierre Pratt

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humorous stories, fantasy & magic
list price: $19.99
published: 2008
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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

The Boy Who Ate the World

Don Gillmor has written a humorous story about greedy giants who live among us. They co-exist in a world quickly running out of enough food to sustain their young son. Could there be a hidden message in this story? Not for the five-year-old crowd, where the idea that a giant baby with a silly name like Herman Oof – who eats buildings and whole countries – produces spontaneous giggles.

Eating, however, does not make Herman happy; in his cravings he imagines the moon and the stars are his only friends. Just like the Danish folktale of the greedy cat who eats everything in sight, Gillmor’s Herman increases in size until he too declares if he ate one more thing he would burst. Enter young Sarah – very upset that Herman has eaten her dog – who offers that one extra bite. The humorous and predictable result relieves Herman of his enormous load and saves the world (with a few teeth marks on it)! Gillmor offers a curious and gentle twist at the end. When Sarah and her dog look up at the moon, they see a familiar face!

The story is greatly enhanced by the gifted Pierre Pratt. Using his artistic signature (oil pastel and acrylic) he translates Gillmor’s words into fantastically imaginable pictures. He successfully changes the perspective so the reader sees the world through – or around – a growing Herman until the world and Herman are successfully blended together.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2008. Vol.31 No.4.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

The Boy Who Ate the World (And the Girl Who Saved It)

Herman, a seven-year-old giant, can’t stop himself from eating the whole world — one building, one lake and one continent at a time. When Herman tells Sarah that he can’t eat another bite or he’ll burst, she has an idea that just might undo all of the damage that Herman’s appetite has caused.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2009.

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  • Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre
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Herman Oof is a giant. Sarah is a girl. Herman needs 140 hamburgers and 200 glasses of milk for a snack. Sarah does not. Herman takes to swallowing up entire cities and continents and drinking up lakes and oceans. Sarah is not amused. Herman has eaten her dog.

When the island of Japan is all that's left of the world, Herman confesses that he might burst if he eats another bite.

"You'd burst?" Sarah asks

"Absolutely." Herman replies.

An idea is born. Sarah realizes that it just might be possible to restore the world with a loud WHOOSH and only a few teeth marks as proof of what might have been. Pierre Pratt's inventive illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to this entertaining warning about the dangers of global over-consumption.

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Contributor notes

Don Gillmor is the author of six popular award-winning children's picture books, including the Governor General Award winner Yuck, a Love Story and The Fabulous Song, winner of the Mr. Christie's Book Award. He has worked with illustrator Michael Martchenko to create the loveable Sophie and the Sea Monster, an OLA Best Bet, and collaborated with Pierre Pratt for The Boy Who Ate the World (and the girl who saved it). Don's stories are beautifully crafted, funny, whimsical, and touch on real childhood issues. Don initially wrote as a journalist and then later began writing children's books. He has written for many magazines including Rolling Stone, GQ, and Premiere. His articles have earned him six National Magazine Awards.

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About the Authors

Don Gillmor

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Pierre Pratt

Pierre Pratt is the award-winning illustrator of more than seventy books for children. He has won the Golden Apple and Golden Plaque at the Biennial of Illustration in Bratislava, the UNICEF Prize in Bologna and a Totem at the Montreuil Salon du Livre in France. Other awards include the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book Award, the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award and the Governor General’s Literary Award (Illustration) three times. He has also been a finalist for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Pierre divides his time between Montreal and Lisbon.
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