- Age Range: 8 - 10 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 5
- Hardcover: 96 pages
- Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Anniversary edition (May 18, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375801677
- ISBN-13: 978-0375801679
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 79 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,935,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Iron Giant Hardcover – May 18, 1999
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A huge, mysterious iron man stands at the top of a cliff, surveying the ocean. His eyes glow white, red, infrared. Then, he lifts one enormous foot and steps out into nothingness. Crraaasssssh! His head, arms, legs, ears, hands all break off as he tumbles onto the rocks below. The end of the story? No, it's only the beginning of this modern parable of peace in the universe. The Iron Giant has an insatiable appetite for barbed wire, tractors, and rusty chains. While farmers and townspeople run around trying to stop him, destroy him, capture him, only one boy understands what must be done. Meanwhile, an even bigger threat hovers over the land, in the shape of an evil-looking space-bat-angel-dragon. How will the people of the world survive the impending doom?
Ted Hughes, poet laureate of England, first wrote this compelling tall tale in 1968. Clearly, the need for its message of peace has not diminished in the decades since. Simple, repetitive sentences carry the mesmerizing spirit of traditional fairy tales. And Andrew Davidson's black-and-white illustrations, with their menacing air and timeless appeal, drive the point home in vivid style. (Ages 8 and older) --Emilie Coulter
"The Iron Giant is a story so gripping that when you begin to read it aloud, everyone stops to listen, young children and old people alike. And once you know it, you never forget it. A classic is something utterly strange and original, and yet as deeply familiar and necessary as your own hands. The Iron Giant is like no other story in the world, and thirty years after its first publication, we need it as much as ever." -- Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife
"A wonderfully inventive story with the vivid language and startling images of the poet. It has music, momentum, and magic. What else can you ask for?" -- Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth
"High-spirited and entertaining... The Iron Giant is a tall-tale hero in a parable for today." -- The Horn Book
"One of the greatest of modern fairy tales." -- The Observer (England)
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Readers need know nothing about the Cold War, either, though Hughes clearly created this story as an allegory about the evil of war. He gave the characters very little development. Hogarth, the boy who centers the movie based very loosely on this book, functions as a sort of trigger. But there's not much explanation about why he acts, or why anyone acts, for that matter.
Nevertheless, the plot will draw even the most tortured second-grade reader into its tangle of fantasy, words and poetry. And once there, he will find it impossible to escape until the book is done. (My favorite part is the music of the spheres--the music that space made, a strange soft music, deep and weird, like millions of voices singing together.)
The Iron Giant came to the top of a cliff one night, no one knows how or from where he had come. The wind sang through his iron fingers, and his great iron head, shaped like a dustbin but big as a bedroom, slowly turned right, then slowly turned left. Down the cliff he fell, his iron legs, arms and ears breaking loose and falling off as he went. The pieces scattered, crashed, bumped, clanged down onto the rocky beach far below, where the sound of the sea chewed away at it, and the pieces of the Iron Giant lay scattered far and wide, silent and unmoving.
See what I mean? When the Giant was discovered after biting a tractor in two, the farmers whose equipment he had ruined dug a deep enormous hole, a stupendous hole on the side of which they put a rusty old truck to attract him. Hogarth lured the Giant there, and when he finally came to the trap, the farmers filled it in on top of him and let out a great cheer. Of course, the Giant escaped, and Hogarth (who felt guilty) found a home for him in the local scrap yard, where he could eat tractors to his heart's content.
Then arrived from Space a terribly black, terribly scaly, terribly knobbly, terribly horned, terribly hairy, terribly clawed, terribly fanged creature with vast indescribably terrible eyes, each one as big as Switzerland. It landed in Australia, where it covered the whole continent, and all the armies of the world decided to fight this space-bat-angle-dragon, who demanded live creatures as food. They declared war and lost. It was Hogarth's idea to call upon the Iron Giant for help.
I won't tell you how the story ended. But the important point, for grown-ups at least, is that in creating his 1968 Cold War space-bat-angle-dragon, the erstwhile pacifist poet Hughes also created a vision of evil incarnate--the kind of evil that wishes to engulf the entire world, that cannot be reasoned with, cannot be pacified and must be fought. Ironic, isn't it?
--- Alyssa A. Lappen
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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in my children's book collection.