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Children's Fiction Adaptations

Barefoot Helen and the Giants

by (author) Andy Jones

illustrated by Katie Brosnan

Running the Goat
Initial publish date
Jun 2020
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2020
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Jul 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7


Helen is a fine hand with a slingshot, and more than at home in the woods. After all, she was raised by bears for a time. When she stumbles on the castle of three evil giants, she comes up with the perfect plan to rid the land of them. Well, almost perfect. The biggest and meanest giant catches her, and forces her to help him kidnap the princess Antoinette. Always quick on her hairy bare feet, Helen manages to save the sleeping princess and finish off the giant, before heading quietly back to the woods. No one knows who the giant killer is, and Helen isn't talking. Antoinette and her father the king are determined to find the hero, and come up with a plan of their own.

Andy Jones's hilarious new folktale adaptation/middle reader is jam-packed with adventure and tales of adventure. It celebrates brave and resourceful girls, blended families, and storytelling itself.

About the authors

An actor, writer, storyteller, and director, Andy Jones was born and raised in St. John's, Newfoundland. He worked with CODCO, both in theatre and on television, and with Sheila's Brush Theatre Troupe. He has written, performed, and toured five one-man shows; has performed in theatrical productions across Canada and on numerous television shows; and has appeared in such films as Extraordinary Visitor, The Adventures of Faustus Bidgood, and Rare Birds.

His on-going series of Jack tales, illustrated by Darka Erdelji, has been widely praised: The Queen of Paradise's Garden was named to the IYL's White Ravens List; Jack and the Manger received the 2012 Bruneau Family Award for Children's/Young Adult Literature; Jack and Mary in the Land of Thieves received the 2012 BMO Winterset Award and the 2014 Bruneau Family Award. Jack, the King of Ashes was nominated for the 2015 Ann Connor Brimer Award, the 2015 Governor-General's Literary Award for Illustrated Children's Book, and the 2016 Silver Birch Express Award. Jack and the Green Man has been shortlisted for the 2017/2018 Hackmatack Award.

With Philip Dinn, he is the author/adaptor, of Peg Bearskin, a folktale from Placentia Bay; the first edition of the book was shortlisted for the 2004/05 Hackmatack Award and named to the International Youth Library's prestigious White Ravens List. The book is being republished in a new edition, featuring all new illustrations and design, in February 2019.

Andy Jones' profile page

Katie Brosnan is a freelance illustrator living in Ketterington, Northamptonshire, England. She graduated with distinction from the Cambridge School of Art's MA program in Children's Book Illustration. Keith Among the Pigeons, her first book, was published in the UK and North America.

Katie Brosnan's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Jones take the characters on a fast-paced adventure that has a bit of magic and a lot of love and guts. He gives readers a few clues to what will happen but nevertheless surprised them pleasantly at every step of the way. His modern twist to Helen's happiness raises the stakes for this entertaining fairy tale which should please children as a read-aloud." —Canadian Review of Materials

"With its capable and clever heroine, it is a rollicking romp that offers many elements of traditional stories along with smart and unexpected variations. Finely told with a folksy lilt, Jones' telling of the tale is a thrill, as is the humour and freshness of Helen's exploits." —Atlantic Books Today

"A whimsically told, timely message of inclusivity with appeal to 'every bunny.'"—Kirkus Reviews

"The text reveals the predicament newcomers face; demonstrates the importance of acceptance, inclusion and collaboration; invites relation upon the notion of welcome, hospitality and community. We need a story like this, simple, warm and sweet, to remind us all of the good qualities about ourselves and the people around us." —Canadian Review of Materials

"It's tempting to call Doody's publications whimsical and let that be the end of it, but there's more narrative and illustrative heft to them for that. This, for example, is a story of difference and inclusion (and even the challenges of being a single parent)." —The Telegram

"Lori Doody paints an important message in a charming story. Older readers will understand the complexity of a story about diversity and inclusive... As welcoming as her illustrations of bold colours and folksy shapes, Lori Doody's story invites the reader into a community where everyone and anyone can reside and be accepted." —CanLit for LittleCanadians

"...this earthy, quirky, humorous version blends traditional folktale elements with the contemporary spin of a strong female heroine who lives happily-ever-after with the princess in a 'splendid family.' What begins as a single story evolves into stories within stories, pulled together in a surprising climax. Striking, original illustrations, worked in black and white as well as vibrant color, capture the fierce dramatic action... A twisted tall tale told with verbal and visual bravado." —Kirkus Reviews

"Raised by bears and found by a lonely couple who always wished for a child, Helen might only have nine toes but she's brave and certainly not willing to let giants get the better of her. Master storyteller Jones spins an outrageously hilarious story, based on classic folktales, but with wonderful twists."—Globe and Mail, Holiday Gift Guide for Children 2020

"The perfect book if you love stories about clever girls who think on their feet, nasty greedy giants, and kings and princesses. Raised by bears, found by a lonely couple who always wished for a child and smart as a whip, Helen might only have nine toes (that's a story in itself as you'll find out!) but she's brave, smart and not willing to let giants get the better of her. Find out what happens when she strikes out on her own in this hilarious story, based on classic folktales but with some wonderful twists. Brosnan's illustrations are every bit as much fun as the outrageous story that Jones spins." —The Globe and Mail (Toronto, ON), Twelve Children's Books that Will Inspire and Enlighten by Jeffrey Canton

"Together, words and images radiate a cheerful energy and optimism that will delight children and adults alike intros playful, quirky tale. Without feeling didactic or heavy handed, the residents of Rabbittown learn a valuable lesson about inclusion, which leads to a deeply satisfying ending whereby Rabbittown had become 'a neighbourhood where any bunny, dog, cat, mouse, squirrel or fox could find new friends and warm mittens." —Atlantic Books Today

"Jones has a spot-on cadence to the words throughout... And Katie Brosnan's expressive imagery keeps pace, ranging from full page portrayals in a natural bouncy palette to smaller monochromatic cameos and framings." —The Telegram

Other titles by Andy Jones