Iron John

Iron John

2.5 2
by Eric A. Kimmel, Trina Schart Hyman, Wilhelm Carl Grimm, Jacob Ludwig Carl 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
Carolyn Phelan
Adapted from the Grimms' fairy tale "Iron John" also known as "Iron Hans," this tells of young Prince Walter, who lives in the forest protected by a wild man (actually a king living under an ancient curse). When he grows to manhood, Walter takes a position as a gardener in a nearby castle and falls in love with Elsa the garden girl, a good-hearted servant. Three times Walter returns to the forest, where Iron John gives him rich clothing to wear to a ball, fine jousting armor for a tournament, and gilded battle armor for rescuing the king. Finally, Iron John's spell is broken, and when Elsa's tears heal Walter's battle wounds, Walter takes her for his wife, and they leave for Iron John's kingdom. Abridged and, as the afterword explains, somewhat changed from the Grimms' tale, Kimmel's dramatic narrative flows from scene to scene with a clear sense of adventure and romance and an underlying sense of mystery. Hyman's beautifully composed illustrations (her first in oil paints for a picture book, according to the jacket notes) are notable for their rich colors and subtle interplay of light and darkness. Her distinctive linear style is softened somewhat yet loses none of its sensitivity to the expressiveness of the human form. The characters reveal their hearts and minds in the illustrations as clearly as in the text. A fine, dramatic retelling.

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Product Details

Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
8.86(w) x 11.35(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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