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The Hero Beowulf Hardcover – April 14, 2005

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Hardcover, April 14, 2005
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 6
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (April 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374306710
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374306717
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.4 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,626,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6–A great green monster, cool Viking gear, and powerful, concise language mark this book, which should be called Beowulf 1A, since it tells only half of Part One of the poem. Straightening out the epic's chronology, Kimmel begins with Beowulf's youthful exploits as a troll- and serpent-slayer (but not as a marathon swimmer, a boast he defends in the poem). Then the telling moves "across the sea" (a map would be helpful) to Heorot, where Grendel is wreaking havoc. Beowulf disarms to fight fairly with the monster, and after a fierce struggle literally dis-arms him. Grendel sinks, dying, into the muck, and the Danes rejoice: end of tale. Manic mothers are all too common, and maybe too scary: Grendel's Mom's scene is cut, and the dragon that Beowulf dies killing, 50 years later, is not even a shadow on the story. Nor are there any Christian references, which pepper the poem (but probably not the legend it enshrined). Fisher's large-scale compositions, easily visible across a reading group, feature bright tones for sails, shields, and jerkins bracketed by sky and sea (or by a matte gold ground). Grendel is a pustular jade. Kimmel approaches the stylistic markers of the poem too timidly: "swan-road" would be livelier than "the sea," and "sinews snapped and bone-joints burst" better than "Grendel's shoulder burst." But let's hope that a Part Two from these collaborators will provide a chance to paint a dragon and to throw in litotes or kenning.–Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-5. In presenting English literature's oldest known epic poem in picture-book form, seasoned folklorists and frequent collaborators Kimmel and Fisher tackle a challenge that may be as formidable as Grendel himself. Kimmel retells the poem's best-known portion in accessible prose, beginning with examples of Beowulf's previous superhuman feats and concluding with Grendel's demise. While Kimmel has not included any of the original's evocative kennings (whale-road for ocean, etc.), his rendition occasionally reflects another distinctive element of Anglo-Saxon poetry; Hrothgar's remark that Grendel "has consumed the bravest of my fighting men, gnawed the bones of my noblest companions" invokes the characteristic scheme of reiterations divided by a caesura. Everett's dyspeptic palette and stark compositions will not be to every reader's taste, and frequently the artist's compositional choices impose perplexing barriers to the skull-thumping, limb-detaching action. The most effective spreads, though, emanate a potent grandeur; it's hard to imagine a better introduction to the epic tradition than the double-page depiction of Beowulf's sea journey, his longboat rearing "like a seabird" over inky waves tipped with white sea foam. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Eric A. Kimmel is a native New Yorker who lives in Oregon. He was born in Brooklyn, NY where he learned to love books and traditional stories from an early age. He could hear five different languages without leaving his block. Eric taught teachers as a professor of Education at Indiana University at South Bend and Portland State University. His favorite classes were children's literature, language arts, storytelling, and handwriting. He left the university in 1993 to become a full-time writer, a dream he had had since kindergarten.

Eric's books have won numerous awards. He and his wife Doris have traveled all over the world, sharing his books and stories with school children in China, Africa, and Turkey.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 6 customer reviews
While both kids liked the story it was a bit much for my daughter.
Amazon Customer
My four year old son absolutely loves this book so much so that he insisted on being Beowulf for Halloween.
Kathryn L Jaeger
An excellent introduction to a classic legend, retold faithful to the spirit of the original.
Midwest Book Review

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By aa-Pam TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I almost didn't post a review here because I prefer not to give this version of Beowulf a rating. The problem, you see, is that I'm conflicted. On the one hand I like mythology and think children should be exposed to more of it. And on the other hand, I couldn't get my kids --currently boy and girl; 6 and 8 -- interested in this book.

Our observations:::

Appearance: the book is a large format hardback with colorful artwork that runs from edge to edge. It's the sort of artwork that doesn't present a great deal of detail, and perhaps this is why it didn't serve to grab my children's attention. [I would have thought it would. I mean on the first pages there's a sea monster chowing down on some sailors. Go figure.]

The story: the story, of course, is about Beowulf and his battle with Grendel. Great kid stuff when you think about it. Grendel is mysterious and murderous and Beowulf is the only one brave enough to face him.

The narrative isn't stellar, but I thought the story would be good enough to engross the small fry. Apparently, it's not a good read-aloud.

Which might have to do with topic of my big complaint. That this book has no pronunciation guide. Really ridiculous when you think about that the likelihood that kid reader's (and most adults) will know how to pronounce names like Wealhtheow and Ecgtheow is next to nil.

In any case, do consider this book. Perhaps my two were just too young for the story. Or perhaps the artwork just wasn't their style. But it's definitely worth a trip to the library, and from there you might decide to add it to your selves.

Pam T~
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The Hero Beowulf is a children's picturebook retelling the legend of the Nordic hero Beowulf. Narrated in simple prose, it tells of how Beowulf came to the aid of the Danish king Hrothgar, whose men were being devoured nightly by the monster Grendel. Depicting Beowulf's mortal battle with the monster, the story tells how Beowulf bested Grendel by tearing off its arm, as its hide was enchanted and could not be pierced with mortal weapons. Grendel never gave mercy to its victims, and so Beowulf showed no mercy to it. The art is colorful and in a slightly simplistic but realistic style, the better to convey the gut feeling of a classic struggle between good and evil. An excellent introduction to a classic legend, retold faithful to the spirit of the original.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As many know, "Beowulf," which can be traced back hundreds of year, is the oldest known poem in English literature. The hero is a Viking, and his story is divided into three parts, the first of which is presented in "The Hero Beowulf." The original manuscript of "Beowulf" is housed in the British Library, and is regarded as a great treasure. Now, Eric Kimmel, remembered for "Don Quixote and the Windmill" joins with illustrator Leonard Fisher to offer a treasure for young readers.

Our story opens with a description of Beowulf's childhood, noting that at the age of ten he took his father's sword to rout a nest of savage trolls who were attacking the innocent. When the sword's blade broke, young Beowulf "ripped up an oak tree by its roots and battered the trolls until they lay dead."

Next, he's engaged in battle with sea serpents, and then he learns of a brutal monster, Grendel, who is ravishing King Hrothgar's land. The monster is so powerful that he comes each night to the hall and carries off the mightiest warriors. No one dares to challenge Grendel until Beowulf appears.

Fisher's full-color double page illustrations are stunningly stark, especially when depicting the monster Grendel. "The Hero Beowulf" deserves a place in every young reader's library.

- Gail Cooke
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