Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – The Iron Man

For this weeks Marvelous Middle Grade Monday I’m in a bit of a rush but I’m going to recommend THE IRON MAN by Ted Hughes. Here’s a little blurb from Amazon:

An iron giant saves the world in this contemporary classic.

A mysterious creature stalks the land, eating barbed wire and devouring tractors and plows. The farmers are mystified—and terrified. And then they glimpse him in the night: the Iron Giant, taller than a house, with glowing headlight eyes and an insatiable taste for metal. The hungry giant must be stopped at any cost. Only a young boy named Hogarth is brave enough to lead the Iron Giant to a safe home. And only Hogarth knows where to turn when a space-bat as big as Australia, hungry for every living thing on Earth, darkens the sky. 

First published in 1968, Ted Hughes’s classic tale is a powerful tribute to peace on earth—and in all the universe. Of it Madeleine L’Engle wrote, “How grateful we should be for Ted Hughes’s brilliant The Iron Giant. It speaks to all ages, and we need its message even more now.” Philip Pullman called it “so gripping that when you begin to read it aloud, everyone stops to listen, young children and old people alike.” Whether you think of it as a science fiction fantasy or a modern fairy tale or a tall-tale parable for today, you will never forget it.

This 1968 book is sometimes also called “The Iron Giant”, particularly after it was adapted into a very fine film by that name in 1999. With praise from the likes of Madeleine L’Engle and Philip Pullman you can be fairly confident that you will get your money’s worth from this book.

When I was reading this book I couldn’t help but wonder why it’s not regularly taught at school. It’s a very short book, less than 10000 words, but with a reading level in grade four, it would make a challenging but bite sized book perfect for “first novel study”.  The themes of peace and friendship also make it perfect for classroom discussion and projects. Ted Hughes was a poet Laureate and married to Sylvia Plath, so his literary pedigree is second to none.  Anyway, it’s just a shame more kids don’t know the book.

Books that are very loosely adapted, as this one was, into film, make great reading choices I think.  At first kids might be disappointed if the book doesn’t follow the plot of the film they know, but as they read perhaps they’ll enjoy seeing the story play out in a different way. This book also has a sequel, THE IRON WOMAN, which feels very modern in it’s environmental themes.

Meanwhile I can’t wait to read Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham. A friend who likes his adult books and was excited that he had branched into books for kids recommended I take a look. it sounds like just my kind of thing. Santa Claus? Are you listening?

Other Marvelous Middle Grade Mondayers can be found here:

4 thoughts on “Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – The Iron Man

  1. First let me*swoon* and *swoon* some more.
    I didn’t know there was a book attached to the movie adaptation O_O
    Thanks for the feature. You just made my day as a reader 🙂

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