BEOWULF by James Rumford


A Hero’s Tale Retold
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 10
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“What you have heard before is nothing. I will stir up the waters of the old days and shape the long-ago then into now. I will speak of ogres and dragons and faraway lands. Listen!” Retelling the earliest English hero tale using only words descended from Anglo-Saxon and Norse tongues, Rumford crafts a steely account of the Great Geat’s deeds. He pairs it to painted illustrations in which the green figures of Grendel and his mother are all long, sharp teeth and swirling nets of fronds. Beowulf looks deceptively ordinary, and the spiky red dragon that is ultimately the hero’s doom weaves sinuously across nearly every background. Runes in the pictures spell out Beowulf’s name, and lines from the 1,200-year-old original. Among the dragon’s-hoard of recent renditions, this stands out both as being more suited to a single-sitting read-aloud than Michael Morpurgo’s complete edition, illustrated by Michael Foreman (2006), and, unlike the Gareth Hinds version (April 2007), for depicting hard-fought battles without splatters of gore. (afterword) (Folktale. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-618-75637-7
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2007


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