I fairly recently joined Goodreads, a social network based around your reading. You enter in what you've read and then the website recommends books for you, but you can also befriend other people and follow authors or even follow other readers as well as post your own reviews of what you read.
Thanks to this blog, I can fairly easily catalog what I've read for the past 5 years; however, there's quite a large collection of books that I know or think I've read that I don't have a time frame for. For example, I'm pretty sure that I read Mary Norton's Are All the Giants Dead? in elementary school, or at least tried to.
The feeling of boredom I felt at the opening social visits to the royal Boofy and Beau is analogous to a similar feeling of boredom I remember feeling as a child, a feeling that I don't think I pushed on through.
So, I imagine, the book was one I started but didn't finish, and that my best memories of the book are the illustrations by Brian Froud.
I'm happy to say that I did push on through that boredom (a boredom reminiscent of the boredom I imagine James, our hero, felt at the same social visit) and did indeed finish the book. I imagine if I had trudged through the niceties, I would come to the page in which we learn (along with James) that Boofy and Beau are Belle and the Beast, now elderly living in their castle.
And to some degree that's how I've been describing this book: peopled with elderly versions of fairy tale characters. I imagine (I'm imagining a lot apparently) that the cast of Cocoons (I miss Maureen Stapleton) or Batteries Not Included playing the characters here. There's even a witch (just the one) being cared for by her granddaughter.
I would categorize this as a "gentle" read. The one death - that of a giant - occurs in a blink of an eye, and you don't really know that it's occur until the giant hasn't moved for a page or two. The creepiest scenario turns into a petting zoo.
Possibly my favorite thing about this book was the two Jacks, Jack-the-Giant-Killer and Jack-of-the-Beanstalk, two old bachelors living under the same roof of an inn and cared for by a "widder" woman. Obviously Mary Norton doesn't come right out and say it, but it seems very much like they're old lovers. When Jack-the-Giant-Killer gets upset at the prospect there being one more giant alive, Jack-of-the-Beanstalk is there with a kind word and a gentle hand as though they've been married for many an age.
So, if you like a fairly quiet adventure, one peopled with warm days and quiet greens - I keep thinking this is the antithesis of The Hunger Games - by all means pick it up, even if simply to remember what it was like before everything was so tense and high drama and explosions. And all you really had to worry about was the strange pair of dancing shoes that kept trying to get into your house whenever you opened the door.