Singer, songwriter, musician — novelist?
Dave Matthews, vocalist, lyricist and guitarist of the Dave Matthews Band is also an established author. In his most recent, the tween title “If We Were Giants,” he presents a cautionary tale with the powerful Disney-Hyperion team and a pair of collaborators backing him up.
Told through the voice of Kirra, a girl whose young life is spent in the idyllic seclusion of family and community within the walls of a dormant volcano, Matthews is joined by children’s author Clete Barrett Smith and illustrator Antonio Javier Caparo in crafting a tale whose story and themes will be music to early readers and their caregivers.
Through inexperience and naiveté, Kirra accidentally leads a tribe of villains, the Takers, to her hidden home. She pays the price for the mistake through the loss of all she cared for — family, community, security and the only future she had ever envisioned.
As if such losses weren’t burden enough, Takers later again threaten her newly adopted family, igniting not only the nightmares she struggles to keep at bay, but the world she has had to reconstruct for a second time.
Clear morals and clean writing make for a typically sanitized Disney story, but the lessons are there and they are important: family bonds, measured risk taking and overcoming extreme adversity among those.
In “If We Were Giants,” Matthews and Smith imagine a strong female protagonist on a hero’s journey amidst enchanting world-building. A prominent fictional foray, the story will have appeal for both giants and those who aspire to be so, although older readers — that is, adult fans — looking for Matthews’s lyrical voice will be left disappointed in the end.