The Iron Woman

The Iron Woman

by Ted Hughes, Andrew Davidson
     
 

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Out of the sludge of a polluted swamp rises a huge, terrifying figure: the Iron Woman, about to vent her wrath on the people who are destroying the land. Young Lucy, whose father works at a factory that contaminates the water, is the first to see the giant and tries desperately to reason with the great avenger. Lucy remembers hearing of another giant creature who also… See more details below

Overview

Out of the sludge of a polluted swamp rises a huge, terrifying figure: the Iron Woman, about to vent her wrath on the people who are destroying the land. Young Lucy, whose father works at a factory that contaminates the water, is the first to see the giant and tries desperately to reason with the great avenger. Lucy remembers hearing of another giant creature who also visited the earth, and about the boy, Hogarth, who befriended him. Soon she and Hogarth and the Iron Man all try to save the people from the Iron Woman's vengeance.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Employing thunderously expressive language and searing imagery, the poet laureate of England concocts a nightmarish morality tale about ecology. Unfortunately, the sonorous prose and Moser's haunting engravings fail to camouflage a simplistic plot and shaky premise. A vast Iron Woman arises out of a marsh and vows, to a schoolgirl named Lucy, to destroy those who have poisoned the waters. Afraid for her father and the others who work at the toxin-dumping Waste Factory, Lucy contacts Hogarth, the boyish handler of the Iron Man (a figure introduced more than 20 years ago in Hughes's The Iron Giant). The children's warnings do not stop the polluters, and so the Iron Woman, after being energized by Iron Man's Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon from outer space, turns every adult male in the country into some type of water creature. They resume human form only after a monstrous Cloud-Spider gets sucked off into space, which also causes the country's refuse to transform, miraculously, into a nonpolluting fuel/fertilizer/pesticide ("`Our problems,' said the prime minister, `seem to be strangely solved'"). Hardly a timely or instructive parable for readers who, despite their youth, know that there are no magical solutions to a pressing global concern. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
The ALAN Review - Susanne L. Johnston
In this brief book, Ted Hughes weaves a page-turning fantasy about pollution and responsibility. The huge, mechanistic Iron Woman rises out of the swamp and seeks retribution from the Waste Factory for all the creatures who suffer in contaminated water. Lucy, whose father works for the factory, the major polluter in town, is caught in the middle. Lucy tries to reason with the Iron Woman and, at the same time, tries to show adults that they must look beyond profits and act responsibly toward the environment. Readers who are willing to suspend their disbelief will see a frightening picture of greed and environmental degradation, followed by an idealized world born of love and collaboration.
Children's Literature - Judy Katsh
This book is a companion to The Iron Man written many years ago. It will have a ready audience, but it appears to be quite sexist-not only overtly (the men get the curse, but the women don't-presumably because they are the caretakers, nurturers. and not the users) but also subtly (sort of subtly-the country falls apart when the men are disabled by the curse). But then, I wasn't really a fan of The Iron Man either when I read it long ago.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-A strange cry and quaking earth alert Lucy (age 10?) to a Presence in the marsh. Next day at dawn, snowdrops and foxgloves at her bedroom window signal the arrival of a huge woman of iron. Benevolent toward Lucy, she rages implacably against the factory where Lucy's father works: it is polluting the waters and their wildlife, as Lucy learns in an apocalyptic vision, accompanied by the terrifying screams of the tortured creatures (including a human baby). Lucy enlists Hogarth, who enlists the Iron Man (both from The Iron Giant [HarperCollins, 1988]). Lucy and Hogarth confront the factory manager, but in the end it is the magic of the Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon that saves the Iron Woman from having to ``DESTROY THE POISONERS.'' All-too-obviously politically correct on the surface, this novel is riddled with problems. The centrality of the female figures is a mere nod to feminism: Hogarth has all the ideas, and the Iron Man has all the power. The wicked factory is, confusingly, in the business of recycling. The predictable triumph of right is achieved by a blatant deus ex machina, and pollution is banished by entirely magical means (with some mumbling about ``change within'' the human agents). Even the critique of greed is undercut when Hughes assures readers that the post-miracle factory makes greater profits than before. The language has occasional brilliance, but for the most part it is as feeble as the plot. The integrity of Tales of the Early World (Farrar, 1991) is nowhere to be found. Hughes's name, and Moser's powerful illustrations, are likely to attract browsers; but keeping readers is another story.-Patricia (Dooley) Lothrop Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Hazel Rochman
Out of the filthy, polluted swamp near Lucy's house comes a great, towering, enraged, mud-covered monster, an iron woman. She brings with her the cry of all the water creatures in torment, and all the people she touches hear that screaming and pass it on to everyone they touch. The plague of instant contagion is a terrifying image for pollution. There's also dark humor as the iron woman rips down the waste factory and reduces the powerful executives to comic grotesques with fish faces above their starched collars and ties. British poet Hughes evokes a world so fierce and sinister that most of Moser's engravings (added for the American edition) seem tame by comparison; even the cover picture is disappointing. Toward the end, the story becomes too convoluted, the fantasy contrived. It's the allegory of environmental devastation--screaming creatures caught in a fiery tunnel--that is unforgettable.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780571289097
Publisher:
Faber and Faber
Publication date:
12/15/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
1,229,767
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 11 Years

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