Ancient Saxon saga in graphic novel form. Good but gory.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The graphic novel treatment of this classic may appeal to video game-loving teens and fans of the 2007 version of the movie.

Positive messages

Good versus evil stuff: Beowulf is a classic hero who must face a terrible monster -- and his even more terrible mother.

Positive role models

Readers may be impressed by the author's work to translate this classic work to a new medium. They may be inspired to search for other graphic novel treatments of the classic story, of which there are many.


Lots -- gory, bloody, hand-to-hand combat pictured, with limbs ripped off, heads chopped off.

Not applicable
Not applicable
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking is portrayed.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a graphic novel treatment of this classic tale Beowulf and may appeal to video game-loving teens and fans of the 2007 version of the movie. Pictures do depict bloody battles, including dismemberment. It's pretty gruesome -- and definitely a better fit for mature tweens and teens. Readers may impressed by the author's work to translate this classic work to a new medium. They may be inspired to search for other graphic novel treatments of the classic story, of which there are many.

What's the story?

The Danish king, Hrothgar, builds a great feasting hall called Heorot. But soon it's attacked by Grendel, a monster from a nearby swamp, who kills anyone he finds within at night. Many heroes try to fight him, and give their lives in the struggle. Over the sea comes Beowulf. Having heard of the monster, he's eager to test himself. After a great battle, Beowulf defeats Grendel, tearing the monster's arm off in the process. But Grendel's troll mother, more terrible even than Grendel, swears revenge. To fight her, Beowulf must follow her to an underwater cave.

Is it any good?


BEOWULF is a grim and gruesome story, and artist Gareth Hinds has produced a graphic novel to match. He does a fine job with the text, adapted from A. J. Church's translation, and his draftsmanship is exemplary. But while Hinds draws the gore with crystal clarity, he's less clear about the sequence of events. There are pages, usually fight scenes with no text, where it's difficult, if not impossible, for the reader to tell exactly what is happening, and in what order. The frames are not sequential, and the action is sometimes muddy.

It's a frustrating flaw in this otherwise spectacular graphic novel version of a classic story. A visceral yet accessible treatment, this is clearly meant to appeal to video game-loving teens and fans of the November 2007 Beowulf movie starring Angelina Jolie and Anthony Hopkins.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the history of the Beowulf story itself. Why has it endured so long? What does it tell us about the culture from which it sprang? How is it similar to modern hero and superhero tales?

  • What do you think of the violence here, which includes gory, bloody, hand-to-hand combat, with severed limbs and heads? Does the fantasy context make it easier to handle -- or does it remain disturbing?

Book details

Author:Gareth Hinds
Illustrator:Gareth Hinds
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:March 13, 2007
Number of pages:128
Publisher's recommended age(s):10

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bylexipoo April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written by9001 March 16, 2010

Iffy for ages 13-15

I read this book with my dad when I was 12. It didn't disturb me, in fact, I found it rather funny. However, it may disturb/gross out other 12 year olds, so I really don't recommend it for anyone under 13. Iffy for ages 13-15.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 17 years old Written byMzJonez22 August 29, 2010
What other families should know
Educational value


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