Iron John

Iron John

2.5 2
by Eric A. Kimmel, Trina Schart Hyman, Brothers Grimm

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The duo that created Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins reunites for this Robert Bly-inspired retelling of a tale from the Brothers Grimm. A prince named Walter frees the wild man Iron John, caged by Walter's royal father, and joins him in the woods. There Walter grows to manhood, but when he fails the task set him by the wild man-to keep a spring unsullied-Iron John leaves him. At the same time, however, Iron John forgives Walter and provides magical assistance as he seeks his fortune, ultimately granting him his kingdom. Kimmel adapts much more freely than Marilee Heyer did in her recent version of this tale. Most significantly, he imposes an egalitarian ending, in which the prince marries a kindhearted garden girl who truly loves him, rather than a princess who had spurned him in his misfortunes. Hyman's expressive pastels move with ease from the dark power of the forest to the colorful pageantry of the court, contributing to the seamlessness of the presentation. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 5-In this altered version of the well-known tale, Kimmel has combined elements of the original plot and the Cinderella story. He has omitted the introduction to the tale, which describes the wild man's capture, and begins the story as the young prince (named Walter) frees his father's prized possession and then, fearing his wrath, runs away with Iron John, who raises him. When Walter is grown, he is sent out into the world and volunteers to serve a king. After winning the hearts of the three princesses at a masked ball and beating all challenges at the king's tournament, the young man is wounded while slaying a band of robber knights who have carried off the princesses. Only the tears of his beloved (here a garden maid named Elsa) save him. He is never reunited with his parents, but returns to Iron John's kingdom. Hyman has illustrated the tale in full-and one-third page, muted oil paintings peopled with characters whose lovely faces are familiar echoes of many of her earlier folktale illustrations. Her forest is dark and eerie by night, a fern-filled grotto by day; her palace garden a charming composite of color; her wild man appropriately wizened and hoary. Alas, the captivating romanticism of the pictures cannot compensate for the lack of cohesiveness and requisite fairy-tale elements. In contrast, each part of the original Grimm tale contributes something to the whole. Iron Hans, illustrated by Marilee Heyer (Viking, 1993) is an authentic version of the story, dramatically illustrated.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

Product Details

Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
8.52(w) x 11.01(h) x 0.16(d)
AD510L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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Iron John 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful adaptation of a Brothers Grimm tale. Its Cinderella-style theme relates the importance of recognizing the value of inner beauty and personal qualities rather than outward appearances. The illustrations are haunting and beautiful. John has been captured and put on display in the king¿s menagerie. He is known as ¿Iron John¿ because his body is covered with long, iron-grey hair and he has a fearsome reputation as being a wild and powerful man-beast. The young prince, Walter, releases Iron John from his cage and, because he fears the reaction from his father the king, goes to live with Iron John in the forest. Iron John puts Walter in charge of safeguarding a magical spring in the forest. This spring has the power to turn anything that is submerged in its waters to gold. The years pass and Walter grows into a young man. He has tried to keep the spring pure, but has not been successful. Iron John directs him to leave the forest and present himself to a king to act as a servant, but tells him before leaving that he will be there to support him when needed. Walter does as Iron John says and presents himself to the king in whose court he is employed as a servant. Walter becomes known as Walter-in-the-Mud to the royal court because of his dirty appearance, but he is befriended by a servant girl named Elsa who is just as dirty as himself. Soon the king hosts a ball and then a tournament, both of which Walter desires to attend, but fears that he can¿t because he is just a servant. Iron John returns to provide Walter with magnificent clothes for the ball, and armor and a horse for the tournament. Walter participates in both and is the talk of the court, but his identity remains a mystery. Elsa tells him of the wonderful things she has seen and that she wishes he had been able to see them too. Following the tournament, a band of robbers kidnap the princesses of the royal court. Walter is again outfitted by Iron John in his gleaming armor and sets off to rescue the princesses. In the battle, Walter rescues the princesses but is mortally wounded. He is returned to the court by Iron John himself who explains his own identity and circumstances to the king as well as those of Walter. John tells the king that Walter can only be saved by the tears of one who truly loves him. None of the princesses can bring themselves to shed tears to save Walter because of his dirty appearance, but Elsa cries over him and he is restored.