3.8 5
by William Steig

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Horribly hideous Shrek leaves home and terrifies everyone he encounters as he searches for his equally ugly bride.


Horribly hideous Shrek leaves home and terrifies everyone he encounters as he searches for his equally ugly bride.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
No doubt about it, Shrek is the ugliest guy in town. Everywhere he goes, people and animals flee. If his hideous appearance does not immediately fell them, the smoke belching from his ears and his ``putrid blue flame'' sends even the mighty--including ``a whopper of a dragon''--packing. Yet Shrek is inordinately proud of his green knobby head and loathsome figure, and he roams the countryside having the kind of fun that only tormenting the vulnerable can provide. Hearing a witch prophesy that he will marry a princess who is even uglier than he is, Shrek is intrigued, and he sets out to find this repulsive bride. When they finally meet, the two break into heartfelt declarations of mutual admiration. (``Your horny warts, your rosy wens, / Like slimy bogs and fusty fens, / Thrill me.'') Of course, they ``got hitched as soon as possible.'' Steig's epigrammatic genius is given full rein in this engrossing and satisfying tale. The implicit promise (or threat) of a sequel--perhaps detailing the exploits of the pair's offspring--is indeed delicious to contemplate. Ages 3-up. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-- Argh, it's Shrek, spitting flame and venting smoke, even uglier than his parents, who kick him goodbye and send him off in the world. He's off on a linear journey to find his true love, foretold by a witch after she recovers from the sight of him. In a maniacal version of the hero's quest, he finds helpers and perils along the way: a dragon, a dream, a donkey, and more. The text rolls right along, here breaking into rhyme, there into knightish talk (``You there, varlet . . . why so blithe?''), there into outright silliness (``Pheasant, peasant? What a pleasant present!'') Perfectly pleased with his hideous self, Shrek finally gains entrance to the ugly princess' castle, and after an operatic duet, the two are united, the bride carrying a cactus for a bouquet. The pictures are just as nutty as the story, blending with the text so thoroughly, sometimes echoing, sometimes expanding it, that it's hard to imagine one without the other. It's all here for Steig fans: magic, animism, chaos, self-reliance, hope, and fulfillment, and from one offbeat episode to the next, it all hangs together to make Shrek's destiny seem just right. The fast-forward movement of the story and the inventive , challenging language, full of surprises, make this especially fun to read aloud. --Karen Litton, London Public Libraries, Ontario, Canada
From the Publisher

“Sure to enchant any child lucky enough to read it . . . Such an ingratiating, cheery book that no one will be able to resist it.” —The Washington Post Book World

“Steig's epigrammatic genius is given full rein in this engrossing and satisfying tale.” —Publishers Weekly

“An original--and comical--reexamination of the reverse world of monsterdom.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Steig's inimitable wit and artistic dash have never been sharper or more expertly blended.” —School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Cynthia Levinson
This ode to self-acceptance, re-issued in honor of the twentieth anniversary of its initial publication, is as joyous and loopy to read as ever. Proud of his ugliness as well as of his abilities to glare so hard at peasants carrying pheasant presents that they faint, repel trees and flowers merely by striding by them, swallow lightening (which strikes him because he is so disgusting), breathe "putrid blue flames" between the eyes of a carnivorous dragon so that it, too, faints, and rejoice at his own hideousness in a hall or mirrors, Shrek is the epitome of the anti-hero made hero. Little else could reassure an child lacking confidence so much as Shrek when, before hundreds of mirrors, he "faced himself, full of rabid self-esteem, happier than ever to be exactly what he was." The only experience that frightens him is a nightmare of frolicking children who hug and kiss him, undoubtedly the bane of many children engulfed by rapaciously affectionate aunts. After glaring, breathing fire, smiting, and otherwise handily dispatching gruesome foes, he completes his quest, foretold by a witch, to find "a princess who is even uglier than you." They woo each other with lovingly repellant descriptions ("Your lumpy nose, your pointy head . . .") and wed. Appropriately, "they lived horribly ever after." This edition retains the colorful and gleefully repulsive illustrations and dastardly deeds of the original in a sturdy high-quality production. It remains a classic, even after being re-interpreted by the movie, and will be welcomed by families whose 20-year-old copies have been read and re-read to oblivion. Reviewer: Cynthia Levinson

Product Details

Feiwel & Friends
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
8.25(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.25(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

William Steig (1907-2003) was a cartoonist, illustrator and author of award-winning books for children, including Shrek!, on which the DreamWorks movies are based. Steig was born in New York City. Every member of his family was involved in the arts, and so it was no surprise when he decided to become an artist. He attended City College and the National Academy of Design. In 1930, Steig's work began appearing in The New Yorker, where his drawings have been a popular fixture ever since. He published his first children's book, Roland the Minstrel Pig, in 1968.

In 1970, Steig received the Caldecott Medal for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. His books for children also include Dominic; The Real Thief; The Amazing Bone, a Caldecott Honor Book; Amos & Boris, a National Book Award finalist; and Abel's Island and Doctor De Soto, both Newbery Honor Books. Steig's books have also received the Christopher Award, the Irma Simonton Black Award, the William Allen White Children's Book Award, and the American Book Award. His European awards include the Premio di Letteratura per l'infanzia (Italy), the Silver Pencil Award (the Netherlands), and the Prix de la Fondation de France. On the basis of his entire body of work, Steig was selected as the 1982 U.S. candidate for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Illustration and subsequently as the 1988 U.S. candidate for Writing.

Stieg also published thirteen collections of drawings for adults, beginning with About People in 1939, and including The Lonely Ones, Male/Female, The Agony in the Kindergarten, and Our Miserable Life.

He died in Boston at the age of 95.

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Shrek! 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
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William Steig's 'Shrek' is a such a marvelous little book that one wonders how the movie's producers missed out on so much in their adaptation. Fans of the film will find a much richer story here, and a Shrek who is much less cutesy than the film's version. Some children's books (Pooh comes to mind) can be as much fun for parents as for the kids at read-aloud time. This is one of them.