Customer Reviews: The Iron Giant
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VINE VOICEon October 4, 1999
Director Brad Bird's take on Ted Hughes' memorable 1968 tale, The Iron Giant, differs substantially from the story. So much so, that the book and the film may not have the same audience. Then again, those taken with the movie will likely want to explore the brief (80 page) book. This recent paperback edition features a beautiful cover drawn from the Warner Bros. movie, although the story is Hughes' original. Priced far below the lavish library volumes, this edition may be the best of both worlds, providing a look at the film's inspiration for the Iron Giant's many curious fans.
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on July 17, 1999
I think this is a really good book, so I think you should read it.
It was very funny sometimes, like when the seagulls found the giant in tiny pieces, and he came up with a funny way to find all his parts!
It was very exciting. The Iron Giant has to go into fire against a space monster that is bothering the world.
This book teaches about living in peace and not having so many wars. I am 71/2 years old, and it was not too hard for me to read by myself.
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on July 5, 1999
I have read this book with my Fourth Grade classes for the last eight years. The reading, while "easy", is nonetheless rich. My students' writing is often rife with violence. It can be difficultto convince them that excitement and suspense canbe achieved without "blood and guts". After reading the Iron Giant, they are pleasantly surprised and often write "sequels" to the Iron Giant's adventures. The prose is poetic. It makes a terrific read aloud.
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on July 5, 1999
I first read The Iron Giant when I was in second grade, back in '75, and it was the first thing that I read that made a real impression on me. I think it's great that this book will be available to a whole new generation of children to enjoy, as I want to share it with my own children.
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on January 12, 2005
I first saw "The Iron Giant" as a movie and it's a fantastic movie. When I saw a copy of the book for sale I quickly snatched it up, I thought I would read it with my daughter.

The thing that first surprised me about this book is that it is beautifully written. It's obvious from its prose that Ted Hughes is also a poet. The slightly sophisticated language might be too much for those under 7, but I found it refreshingly charming.

The second surprise was that this book had very little to do with the movie. There's an Iron Giant in the movie and book as well as a young boy...and that's about it. The theme's are the same (in that this world can be a world of peace instead of a world of violence and fear) but both approach this lesson from different directions.

In the book, the Iron Giant, tricked by the boy, falls into a trap set for him by fearful farmers. The farmers quickly dispose of the giant, but the giant returns and it's up to the boy again to figure out how best to deal with him. In the end the boy and giant become friends but there is a bigger threat on the horizon, a space dragon the size of Australia has come to earth and only the Iron Giant can save the planet.

There's a lot of deep information here for such a short children's book. The Iron Giant (like in the movie) represents misguided fear. The space dragon can mean a number of things, but I align it with this planets habit of aggression... an aggression that threatens to consume us all. This book was written 30 years ago, but it seems timelier now than it did in the 1970's.
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VINE VOICEon October 1, 2000
A metaphor can be a very dangerous tool to wield; quite often while you are trying to reference one particular aspect of a thing, myriad other associations and relations spring to peoples' minds and they may well be quite different from those correspondences you intended to summon. Such is definitely the case with The Iron Giant by Ted Hughes--once England's poet laureate, now best remembered, albeit unfairly, by angry feminists as the husband who drove Sylvia Plath to her grave. Hughes tells the amiable story of a huge metal robot who crashes to Earth and after putting himself back together begins to sate his enormous appetite for metal by devouring cars and tractors and the like. Infuriated local farmers trap him, despite the efforts of one friendly boy named Hogarth. But the Iron Giant turns out to be quite useful when an enormous space-bat-angel-dragon attacks Earth and demands a tribute of animate matter to consume. The Iron Giant agrees to battle the monster, vanquishes him and determines that the creature is actually peaceful but was attracted to Earth by man's violence. The space-bat-angel-dragon agrees to return to space, where his "music of the spheres" has such a calming effect that Earth becomes a peaceful place.
Now the intent of Hughes's original story, as well as that of the very good recent movie which is loosely based on it, is to show the futility of war, violence, etc. Hughes book was written at the height of the Cold War and the space-bat-angel-dragon can be understood to be the Left's idealized version of the Soviet Union--a threat only because of our own attitudes and actions. The Soviet Union having been disposed of in subsequent years, the movie makes a more generalized anti-gun, anti-military, pro-nonconformity statement. But the truly delicious irony in both cases is that the most obvious subtext of the story is at war with the intended central message. Because, at the end of the day, the Iron Giant is nothing less than Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative come to life and saving the world. The author's pacifist message and the filmmaker's antiestablishment message are overwhelmed by the powerful metaphorical symbol of a gigantic defensive weapon being the only thing standing between mankind and certain destruction. How delightful the irony that book and movie basically end up being pleas for the biggest boondoggle in the history of the military-industrial complex.
I liked both book and movie very much. The film in particular may be the best non-Disney animated feature film ever made. Obviously the symbolism of the Iron Giant has escaped the control of the storytellers; but the metaphorical ironies merely add an additional layer of enjoyment.
Book: B+
Film: A-
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on March 13, 1999
As a third grade teacher, I always read this book aloud to my students in between my machines and space units (It fits both)! The kids love this book. It is not too scary for third graders, but just thrilling enough to leave them begging for you to keep reading. Wonderful read-aloud!
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VINE VOICEon November 19, 2015
To be perfectly honest, seeing the film first and then reading the book, it was only then I fully became aware that it was "for children" and what made it so. Not being a review of the animated feature (but being a huge fan) I would say the book is more obviously for kids, and the lessons are a lot more unavoidable compared to the excitement the film brings to life.
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on June 22, 2015
I liked the movie better! The story is ok... not as engaging as The Iron Giant movie and the story line in the movie is much deeper in its meaning in my opinion. Aside from the cover of this book, the story inside it and the movie have very little in common...I rarely like the movie better than the book, but this is one of those instances.
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on April 4, 2012
A mysterious, fearsome giant, made of iron, walks out of nowhere to the top of a cliff. No one knows where he had come from or how he was made. When he steps off the cliff, he crashes and breaks into a hundred pieces, but over time all the pieces fit themselves back together again. Soon afterwards a farmer's son named Hogarth is fishing in a stream and at evening sees a giant black figure, bigger than a house. No one, except his own father, believes Hogarth at first, but when reports begin to come in about missing tractors, plows, and other farm machinery made of steel and iron, everyone decides that something needs to be done.
A big hole is dug near where the Iron Giant had gone back into the sea and is covered with branches, straw, and soil, with an old truck on the nearby hill as bait to trap the monster. At first, he does not come, but eventually he does fall in and is covered with a mound of dirt. However, the following spring, he digs out of the trap and starts eating all the barbed wire for miles around, as well as hinges which he tears off gates, tin cans which he finds in ditches, tractors, cars, and trucks. The farmers talk about calling in the army. But Hogarth has a plan. What is it? And when a giant space lizard the size of Australia comes to Earth from Orion and threatens to destroy the planet by eating all living things, is there anything that Hogarth and the Iron Giant can do to save mankind?
We saw the 1999 Warner Brothers animated feature film The Iron Giant, and our boys really liked it, but I didn't know until a few years ago that the movie was based on a book, originally published in England as The Iron Man, although the two are very different in many respects. The book is quite spare, consisting of only five chapters, so it is an easy read for middle grade students. There is one mention of the stars being billions and trillions and zillions of years old, but it is also said that the people wept and prayed to God to save them from the space lizard. No bad language occurs. Author Ted Hughes was poet laureate of England from 1984 until his death in 1998. The book is said to be "a powerful tribute to peace on earth--and in all the universe," so some might see in it a little anti-war propaganda, but the fact is that no reasonable person really wants war and that everyone hopes and strives for peace. There is a sequel, The Iron Woman, describing retribution based on environmental themes related to pollution.
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