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Iron John Hardcover – September 1, 1999

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Adopting a storyteller's voice for the narration of this bewitching tale, Mayer (Pegasus) skillfully weaves together the essence of several Wild Man myths. Here, Merlin takes on the guise of Iron John, who "lived among the animals in the woodland as their protector." Pels's (previously paired with Mayer for Turandot) dense paintings evoke medieval tapestries. The tendriled elegance of the fronds and ferns in the forest where Iron John dwells pulls readers into this mysterious world. Rabbits, squirrels and deer in fur that perfectly camouflages them against the trees reinforce the "mantle of invisibility" cast over the forest. Yet the Wild Man himself is not completely safe. One of the king's trappers captures him, and he is kept in a cage at the castle until the king's young son, Hans, sets him freeAin innumerable ways. Mayer subtly works in the drawbacks of Iron John's seemingly idyllic life: "But alas, there are consequences for such profound protection, for the forest ceased to grow and now stood frozen in time." Only through Hans's maturation and example does the Wild Man find balance between seclusion and society. Pels reflects these changes in Iron John's portraits: early on in the book, the Wild Man appears almost unsightly. But as the man's relationship with Hans causes him to soften his own view of the world, his image in the artwork softens, too. By the close of the book, Iron John is restored to his former regal figure, complete with robes and crown the color of his verdant forest. A captivating take on an age-old story. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4 In this lush retelling of a lesser-known Grimm fairy tale, young Prince Hans leaves his palace home to accompany a gentle savage called Iron John into an enchanted woods. While living with him, Hans learns the importance of all living creatures and begins to think of the man as a second father. Unfortunately, the boy's impulsive behavior costs him his idyllic existence when he disobeys Iron John three times. Forced to leave the woods, the prince makes his own way in the world, eventually coming upon another kingdom. Once there, he falls in love with the king's beautiful daughter and earns her love by proving his bravery. This is a highly enjoyable tale for modern readers and Mayer's masterful narrative abilities are in full evidence here. Pels's dramatic paintings add to the power of the story and accentuate its lyricism, while providing their own elegant charm. Melissa Hudak, Northern Illinois Medical Center, McHenry, IL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Reviewed in the United States on January 16, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on June 28, 2013
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