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The Giant Under the Snow

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  385 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Three children find an ornate Celtic buckle. To them it is treasure, a fantastic find. They have no idea that it has awakened a giant who has lain at rest for centuries. Little do they know that an evil warlord and his Leathermen have also awaited this moment, this chance to wield their deadly power. In a chilling tale full of menace and suspense the final battle between g ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Orion Children's Books (first published 1968)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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mark monday
Boring Girl: "Look I found a strange, ancient belt buckle! And look I found a giant - under the snow! Well maybe not a giant, but a giant hand, possibly connected to a giant! And maybe not under the snow per se, but under all of that dirt and grass and mystery! But still, there's snow there too, at least it will be there eventually! When it snows!!"

Doubting Thomas: "I highly doubt that."

Boring Girl: "Doubt what?"

Doubting Thomas: "I doubt everything. That is literally all I will do throughout thi
Bionic Jean
The Giant Under the Snow by John Gordon, was first published in 1968. My Penguin paperback copy, bought and read just a few years later, proclaims on the back cover “A breathlessly exciting adventure by a new author”. Taking it down off the shelves recently, I had little memory of the story, but knew it must have been good for me to keep it for so long.

Sure enough, since then, John Gordon established his reputation as a popular English writer of young adult fiction, and is now widely recognised
Jonquil Winters, known as Jonq, goes on a school trip and wanders into the woods alone. This is never a good idea and soon a scary dog appears and an adventure begins to unfold. The first 70 pages of this book were 5 stars for us, really exciting and mysterious with interesting elements from local folk lore and set in the city of Norwich where I grew up. The elements that held our interest, the scary dog, being watched and followed, looking in a museum to gather facts stopped at this point and t ...more
Nov 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, fantasy
A good attempt at a children's fantasy novel by first-time writer John Gordon. This follows the tradition of Alan Garner in offering up a tale based on Britain's folklore, with the Green Man playing a large role (quite literally as it transpires).

The tale is a simple one, simply told and without embellishment. On a school trip, a trio of friends come into possession of a mystical belt buckle which a horde of supernatural creatures want back. There's little more to it than that, and truth be told
Published in 1968, Gordon's eco-fantasy rings so similarly to the work of Cooper and Garner with a rawer edge of Garner perhaps tipping towards the Cheshire man's themes. Three young secondary school students find themselves caught up in the reawakening of a dark force that lay buried beneath the turf and chalk.
When Jonk unearths an item that will bring it the power that it once lost, she calls upon her school friends, Bill and Arf to put things right. There is much more to this story in terms
Karen Langford
Oct 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding children's book that is a classic of its kind. I read this back in the 1980s, and it hasn't lost any power. Very magical, especially in its descriptions of the night flying. Very nearly structured, too. It's set in England, and should be a must for Harry Potter fans looking for somewhat similar books. Highly recommended for imaginative children. ...more
Meg Moggs
Oct 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of mystery, mild horror and gothic fantasy.
This was an exciting, intriguing read that left me breathless. The plot was unique and gripping, and a bit sinister. This book isn't as popular as it deserves to be, which is a shame.
Everyone should try this: yeah, some will dislike it, but some, like me, will LOVE it.
If you had asked me a couple of days ago I'd have said that this was one of the most memorable books I'd read as a child. Well apparently not! While I had always remembered that it featured The Green Man (possibly how my interest started in him, I doubt I'd heard of him before this) the only other thing I found familiar to me was the title!

The actual plotline is pretty simple: a trio of young teenagers, Jonk, Bill & Arf come across a belt buckle which can be used for good or evil, depending on
Nick Swarbrick
There are some great insights into landscape here, both rural and urban, and the eponymous Giant gradually emerging sets the pace for an exploration of how myth, legend and landscape impact on three different young people. The menace is tangible; the magic believable.
Images and episodes that stay with me would have to include the children’s flying - a brilliant device to move the action on that culminates in wonderfully described aerial battling - and almost casually thrown away descriptions su
Alex Sarll
Earlier this month, I was thinking that I really fancied reading a fantasy set in the dark English midwinter, but it was maybe a bit early for another Dark is Rising reread. And then, while packing, I found this, which I'd completely forgotten I had. In which the Green Man lies buried in East Anglian 'backlands', and an ancient warlord plots to suborn his power - all set at Christmas and with a jacket puff from Alan bloody Garner. Perfect.
Except it isn't, not quite. The warlord seems a little l
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-ya
One shouldn't judge a book by its cover but i got this book because of the cover, though it wasn't even the cover of the copy I got from the library, but still, look at that cover it's brilliant. Three children find an ancient belt buckle and then find themselves caught up on the final stage of an ancient battle between good and evil, as you do. Granted the power of flight to help them elide the terrifying Leather Men they must thwart the ambitions of an ancient warlord, and a cracking adventure ...more
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this as a teenager at my mother's request to see if was suitable for inclusion in an Infant School's library (it isn't!). It scared three kinds of living Hell out of me! The subject matter was an instant hit with me (anything to do with history). Quite creepy in places, with excellent writing building the suspense throughout the story. Really not suitable for very small children but an excellent read for the older child. ...more
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd never heard of this book - stumbled upon it while searching the web - not unlike the main character stumbling into adventure while searching the in the woods of the backlands. This is a fast-paced fantasy-adventure that is actually quite suspenseful and often scary. Ancient myths are featured - as well as a protector witch. I'm not going to give too much away. An evil is awakening and three teens have to save the day. The chief protagonist is a girl - which was refreshing. The kids were brig ...more
Rachel Bonnington
While I enjoyed this book, the plot and characterisation lacked depth compared to similar books I've read recently. Having said that, I loved the landscapes, the folklore, and Blythe's magical illustrations, and Gordon's descriptions are enchanting:
'The sky was blue and clear. Behind them the dark line of the forest was like a mysterious shore seen from the sea, and away to their right the sun glinted on the red of the bus as it sailed towards them.'
'The night creaked.'
'[T]he city lay beneath th
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hate this book so boring AND jonk jonk is call a girl what don read this if you like trash

Christopher Bunn
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Lately, I find myself more and more irritated with modern books written expressly for grownups. There are exceptions, but I find a great deal of them boring, ponderous and staggering under the weight of their self-imposed importance. Perhaps this is due to my advancing years, my own impatience and cantankerousness; I suppose that's the charitable interpretation. Whatever the reason, I've been looking back more to the past and rediscovering the books I enjoyed as a child and a teenager. A great m ...more
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was one of my all-time favorite children's books ever, and if you check out the reviews on Amazon, you'll see I wasn't alone in that opinion. I still own the battered Puffin copy sent over from the UK by my grandmother, with a graphic, creepy cover that nicely captures the eeriness of some of the book. I'm on a personal mission to bring this back into paper print, although it is thank God in e-book format too. There are 3 main characters- 2 boys and a girl - who accidentally discover part o ...more
Jonathon Dabell
A nice, fast-moving childrens' fantasy story about three kids who discover that an age-old struggle is taking place in their home city and the surrounding countryside (referred to throughout as the "backlands"). It begins when a young girl gets separated from her school party and discovers a hand-shaped mound in the earth, between the fingers of which lies a golden belt buckle. Soon, she is caught up in an invisible battle between the forces of good and evil. Befriended by a character called Eli ...more
Pablo Samayoa
Apr 11, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book made my head hurt because it is so boring
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Very entertaining. Gordon’s strengths here are in keeping up the momentum of his character’s rambling, questing journey and in the occasional, brilliant moments of weird perception changes when characters are confronted with supernatural threats.

3.5 stars
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it
The plot was compelling and kept us interested, although the writing seemed to drag a bit in places - a little too much detail in the descriptions of action, perhaps. Still, an enjoyable bit of fantasy.
Feb 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
So I really did try and read this, but the writing style is so annoying and awkward that I gave up...
Ana Pao
Jan 23, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
reading this book felt like a chore (normally i enjoy school reading). the storyline just didn't work out for me.... i'm actually relieved that i finally finished this!! ...more
Kathleen Dixon
This has been sitting with a collection of books that my brother handed to me when he was moving house one time (probably 20+ years ago when he was departing for Australia). I almost certainly read it when we were both kids, and I just now re-read it as I too am trying to de-clutter. It is of course a neverending activity, because there are always new books, and some of the ones I re-read in order to then move on actually end up staying. This one I really enjoyed, but not enough to keep for post ...more
Christina Reid
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Picked this up in my local library as it seemed like it would be my cup of tea, reminiscent of The Dark is Rising or books by Alan Garner and Rosemary Sutcliff. It is based on a story from English folklore and set in East Anglia, not generally a popular setting for stories. It is fast-paced with some genuinely creepy baddies ( the leather men) and imaginative set pieces involving the three main children swooping over a starlit, snowy landscape. I would have liked more background on the warlord a ...more
Nicola Nicholson
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A forgotten children's classic,which transports me back to my childhood in the 1970's. Cold,wet,grey days with journeys on buses through the city. Atmospheric and the leather men still terrify me. A great story with fantastic characters. ...more
Susanna Grant
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
mysterious, fascinating and wonderful--sheer pleasure
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
this is a nice read. short and you can tell from the story that this is pre-harry potter time.
Analía González
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is kind of hard to understand.
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John Gordon was an English writer of adolescent supernatural fiction. He was the author of fifteen fantasy novels (including The Giant Under The Snow), four short story collections, over fifty short stories, and a teenage memoir. For more information, please see

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