An eerie atmosphere pervades this tale of a boy whose parents are taken away on consecutive midnights by a pair of empty boots. Sure that the boots will return for him next, the boy assembles a pair of trapped rats, a sledgehammer and spikes, a jar of honey, and some shotgun shells. What's he up to? The plan, we discover, is to have the rats devour the nailed-down boots. They do, but in the process they ingest the boots' magic pull as well--and the boy, now bent on a rescue operation, ends up driving them to the wooded spot where a giant has caged the parents as a preliminary to eating them. This is the fate of anyone who can't answer the unhappy giant's question, ""What has become of the child I was?"" The boy, pretending to look for that child down the giant's throat, does save himself and his parents by blowing the giant up from inside--and then, home safe, wonders remorsefully ""what was going to become of the child that I was."" Ending so patly does tend to reduce all the suggestive vibrations to one flat note--but the question so raised (Is violence a prerequisite to maturity?) is a likely discussion-starter, just as the story with its compelling images would make a mesmerizing readaloud for a reader and audience who are up to it.