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Beowulf the Warrior (Living History Library) Paperback – April 1, 1997
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" Here is a spirited version of the oldest English verse epic. With tremendous power and memorable simplicity, Ian Serraillier has retold the heroic saga of the warrior who in his youth delivered Hrothgar the Dane from the menace of Grendel, the night-prowling monster; and who in his old age fought his last victorious but fatal battle against the dreadful dragon who ravaged the land of the Geats. The verse follow the pattern of the original poem closely, rekindling the fire and vigor of the unknown author who first wrote down this magnificent story, more than a thousand years ago.
""To venture on the story of Beowulf in verse, whether for children or adults, is a deed with its own kind of heroism. ...There must be a hundred ways of failing; Mr. Serraillier has hit on one of the ways to succeed. In about 800 lines of well-wrought verse, suitable for reading aloud, and free from the stale smells of lamp and candle, he establishes a manly narrative...""
-Times (London) Literary Supplement"
Absolutely terrific retelling that condenses the Beowulf story to about 800 lines from the original 3812, while keeping the tone and intent intact. In my opinion it is a literary work of genius, and of great understanding of the original tome. Read aloud for grades 2/3 thru high school. (for sensitive children do not tackle till grades 4/6 due to blood and battle scenes) Independent read for grades 5/6 thru adult, but really best for late jr. high and all thru high school, even as prep for college literature classes.
This retelling is well-complemented by Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo for grades 5-12. For the Beowulf story for younger readers, grades 2/3 to 5/6, I recommend The Dragon Slayer by Rosemary Sutcliff.
PS- Beowulf is much more likely to appeal to the male gender.
Though it's still a little advanced for my kids (under age 6), it will definitely be bedtime fare in the not-too-distant future. For those unfamiliar with the story, it tells the tale of Beowulf and his battles against awful Grendel, the hideous mother of Grendel, and the terrible fire-breathing dragon. This edition includes a number of illustrations which will certainly help draw younger readers into the story.
If you enjoyed Beowulf and want to know more about the Anglo-Saxon language, you might try A Book For The Beginner In Anglo-saxon: Comprising A Short Grammar and Some Selections from the Gospels. If you just like epic poems, there's also The Laviniad: An Epic Poem which is an epic in the Trojan War cycle written by a modern author and the classic The Ballad of the White Horse by G. K. Chesterton.