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James Rumford
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Beowulf A Hero's Tale Retold

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  68 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
When sleep was at its deepest, night at its blackest, up from the mist-filled marsh came Grendel stalking...Thus begins the battle between good and evil, for lying in wait and anxious to challenge the ogre Grendel is a young man strong-willed and fire-hearted. This man is Beowulf, whose heroic dragon-slaying deeds were sung in the courts of Anglo-Saxon England more than a ...more
Published 2007 by Houghton Mifflin (first published September 1st 2006)
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Riveting text and vibrant drawings bring the ancient poem to life for children. Rumford has done everything right! A brief, but informative epilogue educates us as to the author illustrator's sources of inspiration for both the text (translations of the poem, linguistic decisions) and the illustration (work of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, as well as Anglo-Saxon and Keltic manuscripts from the first century).

The decision to limit the vocabulary to Anglo-Saxon words (with some Old Norse, Lati
Jul 20, 2012 Cariegreer rated it liked it
Beowulf: A Hero’s Tale Retold is an English folklore of juvenile literature based on Beowulf a hero poem written around the year A.D. 800. The poem itself was written in Old English or Anglo-Saxon, which is said to be the basis of the English language. Some of the words come from Latin, Greek, and Old Norse- the language of Vikings. The illustrations are dark and outlined in black with an emphasis on the color of green and depict a lot of fighting with swords to the death. The text of the story ...more
Marc Hays
Apr 15, 2015 Marc Hays rated it it was amazing
This hardcover, picture book version of Beowulf is a cut above others. While keeping in mind that he was gearing this book toward young readers, James Rumford chose only English words that can be traced back to the time when the story was told. He explains the history of the story and his translation on the last page.

It is a beautiful retelling of the ancient tale. Here's a sample from the first page:

"What you have heard before is nothing. I will stir up the waters of the old days and shape the
Barbara Gregorich
Aug 08, 2014 Barbara Gregorich rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grades
I've read maybe three translations of Beowulf over the years (haven't read Heaney's yet), and I wasn't sure I wanted to read another, but this book received such great reviews that I bought it — and am I ever glad I did. Although this is marketed as a children's book, and the story is condensed for that reason, I've found that adults also enjoy this re-telling. Rumford uses only those words which can trace their roots to Anglo-Saxon (or were already part of Anglo-Saxon at the time of this ...more
Sep 22, 2016 Teri rated it really liked it
This is a wonderfully written version of this story with all three battles included. I'm quite surprised how much all my girls LOVE this story.
Audrey's Picture Books
Mar 29, 2016 Audrey's Picture Books rated it it was amazing
I'm normally a grinch about watered-down children's versions of classic literature. What's amazing about this one is that it doesn't feel watered-down, or even abridged. It feels like you're really reading Beowulf--except that it's over very quickly and has wonderful illustrations to go with it. Rumford has a great instinct for recognizing and leaving intact what's at the heart of Beowulf, even syntactically. He manages to get in some alliteration here and there, as well as preserving some of ...more
Sam Ott
Oct 11, 2015 Sam Ott rated it really liked it
Beowulf: A Heroe's Tale Retold by James Rumford, published in 2007.
Genre: Illustrated Nonfiction Folktale
Format: Hardcover
Plot: A retelling of the Beowulf saga detailing his combat with Grendel and Grendel's mother to save Hrothgar and his hall. It also contains his final combat with the dragon and eventual heroes death. This version has excellent illustrations which help illuminate the text and a pronunciation guide for the Old English words young readers may not be familiar with.
Dec 13, 2014 Tricia rated it really liked it
This is so much better than the one I read yesterday (The Hero Beowulf, by Kimmel). The language is much more poetic, even though (according to the author's note) he restricted himself to words that can be traced to Anglo-Saxon. The illustrations are lovely, inspired by Rackham and Dulac - much more befitting the epic tale. There is a dragon lurking behind the illustrations throughout the Grendel & his mother section, relaxed by some tesselatable ravens once the dragon enters the tale. Just ...more
Miranda Clark
Aug 30, 2012 Miranda Clark rated it it was amazing
I find this book to very well done. The first thing I like is that
Rumford respects the original epic poem by limiting himself to only language/words that can be traced back to the original language. The illustrations are done in pen and ink and are reminiscent of illuminated texts and medieval tapestries. I believe Rumford makes what seemed totally inaccessible to me in my Freshman English course engaging and exciting.
Hannah Guerra
Oct 03, 2013 Hannah Guerra rated it liked it
Shelves: eng-261
This fantasy novel is an adaption of the traditional story of Beowulf. This story follows Beowulf, a man with the strength of thirty men, as he won over the Danish by fighting various battles for them and became their king. In the end, Beowulf dies and passes all he has down to Wiglaf, who is like his son. This book has themes of bravery and love and is suited for grades 4-6.
Stephanie Klaren
This is a great book for middle elementary aged students who are interested in ogres, knights, kings, and heroes. This book is about the ledge of Beowulf and why he was such an honored man throughout Danmark.
Dec 29, 2012 Christine rated it really liked it
Shelves: jf-ya
This is a graphic novel version of Beowulf appropriate for middle grade students. The illustrations are nice and fitting for the topic. It is a good basic introduction to the story. I like the author's explanation in the back of the history of England and the English language.
Yijun Yuan
Sep 25, 2015 Yijun Yuan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to watch the movie for a long time, but it turned out to be boring -- I give up in one second. This book for kid is much better! Cannot expect to read the original poems however.
Sep 20, 2013 Rachel rated it it was amazing
amazing! I bought it for my kids and then had trouble letting them touch it. the illustrations are gorgeous and the story amazing.
Aug 22, 2014 Thecajungirl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
This book captivated my daughters. They are Soon to be 13 and 10.5 years old. The illustrations are gorgeous and the historical notes in the back of the book really caught their attention.
Nov 14, 2015 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully told version of Beowulf (and beautifully illustrated too). I love the afterword, explaining the linguistic choices made. Really terrific.
Jun 28, 2013 Lynn rated it it was amazing
My first reading of this classic tale. I love the story, and Rumford's presentation and notes Illustrations will draw in reluctant readers. I may even try other , i.e. longer, versions!
Lucinda Rose
Lucinda Rose rated it it was amazing
Aug 25, 2012
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Oct 10, 2015
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Mar 24, 2012
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Jun 17, 2014
Hilton rated it it was amazing
Nov 09, 2013
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Oct 02, 2016
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Jul 12, 2016
Gregory rated it it was amazing
Nov 29, 2013
Stacey Colbert
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Aug 20, 2016
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I have been writing, illustrating, and designing children's books since 1996. I am on the verge of self-publishing through books that are printed on demand and via the internet. For more on my children's books, see my website: I also have a blog about writing and illustrating children's books at Besides commercially published books, ...more
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