Beowulf

beowulf.jpgGuts and gore are not really my thing, but is it okay when it’s a classic? Re-released this year, the epic tale of Beowulf (Candlewick, $21.99), the warrior prince who faces off with ferocious dragons and the infamous Grendel, is adapted and illustrated by artist Gareth Hinds. There’s nothing worse than a scene you might find in the Harry Potter series. Yes, limbs are torn asunder…well, one very famous limb in particular, and yes monsters are slain. When the book came out, my natural aversion to impaling, mounting monster heads on a stick and dragon ‘hickeys’ had me feeling like I might/could pass on this one. However, my son, Max, was assigned to read Beowulf and Hinds’ adaptation was a true comfort to him. Frankly, for him, and for many students, the text version is a plonker. This is an amazing book on the level of art. Hinds gives readers a paragraph of text and follows it with a visual feast of boats landing, Vikings clashing and dragons fuming. There is often one paragraph on a spread and then three or four pages of narrative art. When I was reviewing it, Max leaned over my shoulder and pointed out his favorite gory bits. He clarified several story points for me. All this to say, if you think your kids can handle it, let them have a go with Beowulf. It doesn’t, like some graphic classics, come off like a tv version of the real thing. It’s a work of art in and of itself. But it sure does make the real book go down smoother. We gave a copy to Max’s high school English teacher and she loved it, too.

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