The Earth Giant
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Burgess' writing is always ambitious, as his Carnegie medal-winning novel Junk demonstrates. This is for a younger audience but is no less enthralling. Peter and Amy are brother and sister but Peter feels excluded when Amy becomes secretive and evasive after a violent and destructive storm. She has, in fact, sensed the destruction of an ancient oak tree, beneath which a giant has lain dormant for many years. When the giant leaves her underground sanctuary Amy develops a telepathic relationship with her, through which she discovers the giant's interstellar origins. Peter's reactions are a mixture of jealousy, anger and a desire for the attention he might get by revealing the giant's existence to the press. Burgess' story is a study in polarised attitudes - Amy's open honesty and Peter's fear of the unknown. The giant is utterly convincing and her plight a source of shame to the reader, since we might well react in the same way as Peter. This is a timely warning from Burgess, warning us of the dangers of intolerance of people and situations which we do not understand.