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REVIEW: The Iron Giant by Ted Hughes

REVIEW SUMMARY: Fun story for kids and adults; great to read to/with your kids.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The fearsome Iron Giant becomes a hero when he challenges a huge space monster.


PROS: Fun, fairytale-like feel

CONS: My 5-year old is probably too young to enjoy this, even though she liked the movie.

BOTTOM LINE: A good book for the budding sf fan.

Having enjoyed the Iron Giant movie, I’ve been keeping an eye out for the children’s book on which it was based. I found and excellent copy of it this week. It’s the 30th anniversary edition by the Knopf imprint of Random House which has an excellent cover illustration (and interior illustrations) by Andrew Davidson.

The 80-page book is broken into five chapters, the first three dealing with the Iron Giant’s arrival and how he comes to stay on Earth. Hogarth, a farmer’s son, befriends the metal-eating giant and finds a home for him where he can do the least amount of damage. The last two chapters deal with the Iron Giant’s battle with an evil space monster the size of Australia. The giant, who himself is only a fraction of the monster’s size, challenges the monster to a contest of strength. The contest involves the Iron Giant being subjected to the heat of an oil fire while the space monster is subjected to the heat of the sun – a bit unfair, but hey, he is an evil space monster.

All-told, this was a fun story for kids. My own daughter enjoyed the movie but is still at the stage where a most of book’s appeal comes from looking at the pictures, of which the Iron Giant had only a few (excellent!) pencil drawings. So, this book is probably better suited for the “older” young readers. The message is positive as well. The monster story is an allegory for war and the ending sends the message of peace.

I do own a copy of Hughes story The Iron Woman?somewhere. I think I’ll go dig that out of the “archives”.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

5 Comments on REVIEW: The Iron Giant by Ted Hughes

  1. Hmmm, I may need to pick this one up for my 7 year old. I think he would enjoy it greatly…

  2. My 5 year old just enjoyed The Hobbit, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Great Wangdoodle so don’t sell her short John. I just read a chapter at a time and over the course of a few weeks we got through them – he really liked it and it was a nice change of pace from the other books (the hundreds of other books) that he has that are all obviously childrens books.

  3. We did the Hobbit via books on tape during a road trip last year, and it was an incredible success. So I would agree with Scott – but then again I agree with everybody but Pete ๐Ÿ™‚

    Touche’ Pete ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Well, I tried again to get my daughter to warm up to the Iron Giant. I told her that Scott’s son liked it when his daddy read him big-boy stories. I did not expect it to go over too well.

    I was wrong! She was so into the story. It helped that I jazzed up the storytelling with over-exaggerated vocals until my voice was hoarse – but she loved it. After the first chapter, she was begging for more. So we read two chapters, leaving the story at the Iron-Giant-in-a-hole cliffhanger.

    Thanks for the tips!

    [begin cheesy music] Gee, look at us…blogging our way towards being better parents. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Please tell me you won’t do anything with Wangdoodle

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