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Beowulf The Brave

Authors: Oakley Graham
(3 customer reviews)
Fiction, Poetry, Fantasy

A brave little boy steps into the big boots of his hero, Beowulf the Brave, in this retelling of the epic poem. But will he defeat the scary monsters that threaten the land?

Beowulf is the longest poem in Old English, the language spoken in Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman Conquest. The story of Beowulf is set in Scandinavia way back in the 6th century.

It is a story of good versus evil, with the Geatish warrior, Beowulf, saving his neighbours from a monster called Grendel, then defeating the monster’s mother, and finally protecting his own kingdom from a dragon.

The original Beowulf poem is more than 3,000 lines long! This book is a shortened version and is written in modern English, but it still includes all of the main action!

The story of Beowulf was told by word-of-mouth for decades until it was finally written down around 1,000 years ago. Only a single copy of the manuscript survives. It is kept at the British Library in London.

Oakley Graham

Oakley Graham

Graham Oakley is an award winning English writer and illustrator best known for children’s books. He lives in Lyme Regis, Dorset UK.

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3 reviews for Beowulf The Brave

  1. Myths and legends. Bravery. Verse tale. Beowulf is the king of his land and rules fairly, but one day a monster, Grendel, attacks, forcing him to take steps. All the men try to defeat him without success, so Beowulf must take on the task. He fights bravely and fiercely, eventually defeating the giant where no one else could. But defeated, Grendel’s mother is very angry so Beowulf must track her down and overcome her as well. It goes well and he is lauded by all in his land and hailed as a hero king. He rules quietly for many more years, but then a dragon appears, ready to take the treasure from its mound. Beowulf is called to action again, his people begging him to protect them from this new monster. He does so, killing the dragon but sustaining a mortal blow himself. Both stories of Beowulf are well told, involving the reader in the tale from the Celtic archives. At the end of the book, the author details more about this old saga, and this little bit of information will ensure readers look to Wikipedia to find out more. Stories of ancient tales are few in number and so are a welcome addition to any library which promotes stories from other cultures. Fran Knight

  2. Beowulf The Brave’ begins with a father reading a bedtime story to his son. While Dad reads, the son visualises himself as the brave Beowulf, vanquishes Grendel, then his mother, then finally a dragon, before slipping into sleep. Illustrations begin with the bedtime ritual, continue with the action ‘centre stage’ until finally returning to the bedroom as the story ends. Illustrations are digital and fantastical, as any telling of Beowulf must be. Beowulf, a story poem known for its complexity and drama, was over 3000 lines long. It is an oral tale, not written down for many years after its creation. This version introduces Beowulf and his adventures, in a much briefer form, for a young audience that may baulk at the full story. As the story is told, the boy casts himself as Beowulf. In his imagining, he is the brave hero. ‘Beowulf The Brave’ introduces not just this epic tale, but also the tradition of storytelling that predated written language and books. Recommended for early- to mid-schoolers.

  3. A skilfully short re-telling of a 3,000 line epic poem, Beowulf The Brave will excite young adventure seekers and leave them wanting more. Award winning English writer Oakley Graham takes a departure from writing original children’s fiction and turns his hand to the adaptation of one of English literature’s longest poems in Beowulf The Brave, A retelling of the epic Beowulf poem. Quite a tall order to set for him, you might say, and Oakley does a commendable job for his primary school audience. Though extremely condensed and watered down for the PG-market, the main gist of the Old English tale is preserved, and like Horrible Histories, will no doubt pique the interest of young readers who like their tales a little on the macabre side. Beowulf The Brave opens from the perspective of a children’s bedtime story with a little boy being read to by his father. His imagination is instantly sparked by the image of a monster Grendel causing havoc in a peaceful kingdom from long ago, and he becomes the personification of the legendary Beowulf, brandishing his sword and shield. Though very unlikely, this small but brave hero takes on Grendel and slays this otherwise unstoppable force, leading to more trouble from the monstrous realm. The Beowulf legend deals with really quite serious issues, not the least of which are violence, destruction and death but Graham doesn’t apologise for this; he writes the tale matter-of-factly and avoids the gory details. With its quest theme, male hero and ogres and dragons, this historical picture book will no doubt have the widest appeal with young boys and they are likely to be satisfied with the simplified telling of this great tale. The illustrations are wonderful and the colour scheme conjures up that medieval, torch-lit feeling of a fairytale world with knights conquering against evil foes. The little boy as great hero is also quite comical and takes the edge off what is actually quite a dire ending. Beowulf is not necessarily the first historical poem I would choose to turn into a picture book but after all, why not? It is full of all the elements that kids love – action, adventure, heroes and monsters.

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