Saturday, December 2, 2017

Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo...

Micheal Morpurgo's Beowulf is a wonderful retelling of this Old English epic. I first became aware of it through Beautiful Feet Books. It is included in their Intermediate Medieval History guide, which we are working through this year.

Morpurgo's Beowulf is easy to read and understand, yet doesn't dumb down the tale of the noble Scandinavian warrior. In his acknowledgement at the back of the book, Morpurgo gives credit for his understanding of the epic to Seamus Heaney, Rosemary Sutcliff, Kevin Crossley-Holland, and Micheal Alexander. The suggested reading level is ages 8-12, making it a very accessible retelling.

The story is written in three parts. First, Beowulf must conquer Grendel, a monster who consistently attacks the Danes. Then he must face Grendel's mother, the Sea-Hag, who comes to avenge her son's death. Many years later, after becoming King of the Geats, Beowulf decides to fight the Death-Dragon of the Deep in an effort to save his people. The dragon, who'd been asleep for over three hundred years, was awakened by a slave trying to steal a jeweled cup from his lair and has been blowing fire, burning the Geats' homes and land. I will not spoil the ending.

Beowulf is a classic good versus evil tale. It put me in mind of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Beowulf is a leader of incredible character. His strength, nobility, and virtue shine throughout the story. I highly recommend Morpurgo's retelling, particularly for 4th-8th grade or anyone looking to get a general handle on this epic. It has totally set the stage for Heaney's Beowulf, which I look forward to reading in the future.

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