Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Farmer Giles of Ham is a mock folktale, supposedly translated from a medieval Latin original. It purports, among other things, to reveal the origins of certain place names in Oxfordshire, which is more or less the locale of “The Little Kingdom.” It is certainly located, at some unspecified time in the past, in the Midland counties of England, with the mountains of Wales to the west.

From these mountains comes the first event to disturb the pleasant routine of Farmer Giles’s rural life. A deaf and nearsighted giant gets lost and stumbles through the English marches, trampling everything in his path. Giles’s talking dog, Garm, hears and sees this giant as he approaches their part of the world and, panic-stricken, wakes Giles and his wife in the middle of the night. Farmer Giles loads an ancient blunderbuss, never before fired in anger, and hits the giant in the face as he appears over a hill. The giant, thinking that he has been stung by a fierce insect, decides that the place is unhealthy, turns around, and stumbles back home. Garm boasts to the whole village that his master has fought off the giant. The king in his palace some miles away hears of this and, as a token of gratitude, sends Giles an old sword from his treasury for which he has no further use.

Giles enjoys his newfound reputation, that is until a Welsh dragon, hearing from the giant how pleasant Middle England is and being extremely hungry, sets out to find himself...

(The entire section is 471 words.)