Childhood is the most precious phase of any individual. This is when we begin to learn new things and do new things for the first time. It’s also very valuable because it’s better than the hustle and bustle of adult life. It’s a stage of life where we create the first memories that we will cherish our entire lives.
One particular memory I could never forget is the memory of the fable of an iron giant I read while growing up. It was a story written by Ted Hughes in 1968. I don’t know if it had fallen out of vogue in late-1970s New York, if it simply hadn’t made significant inroads in America yet at that point, or if it was just a random omission.
My first exposure to the story of the metal-consuming colossus who befriends a young English boy named Hogarth came when Pete Townshend wrote a musical based on it in the late ’80s.
But for some reason, I’d never gone back to Hughes’s original text. That discovery required this new edition, which features suitably expansive, wondrous illustrations by Laura Carlin; at any rate, I now can’t believe I put it off so long.
This new edition titled, The Iron Giant, or The Iron Man as it’s commonly called, is an epic for children (Hughes did a good job of inculcating the power of stories like those of Odysseus and Gilgamesh while keeping it simple and accessible to kids). There’s nothing quite like it in kid literature, to this day.
It’s also engrossing for the kids. Our six-year-old, for example, was riveted from the opening page, and even our three-year-old’s short attention span was held in thrall. Some of that can surely be traced to their prior familiarity with the Brad Bird version—but that adaptation smoothens out much of the grand strangeness of the original for modern movie audiences.
The amazing thing is it’s these elements that aren’t in the film (the entire space-bat-angel-dragon storyline, for example) that our boys find most compelling and fascinating. The benefit of getting the young ones comic books like this is the memories they’re able to create as well as get in touch with their imaginary self.
From You Know, For Kids
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Photos Whitney Webster