Thursday, May 21, 2009


By Chris Wilson

Author & Illustrator: Alexis E. Fajardo
Publisher: Bowler Hat Comics
Genre: Mythological Fiction

Format: Softcover
Pages: 208
Color: Black and white
ISBN-10: 978-0-9801419-1-7

What I did not realize when I first read this book (and initially wrote this review) was the depth and complexity of Fajardo’s universe. After having an impromptu online dialogue with him I decided to rework the review and up the recommendation. I also pledged to myself to get my hands on every … single … volume of the 12-part series for my classroom.

KID BEOWULF AND THE BLOOD-BOUND OATH is not just a fictionalized what-if account of Beowulf. Volume one asks the reader: What if the story we knew and treasured was not the truth? What if Beowulf and Grendel were brothers? Fajardo goes on to create a back-story of Beowulf and Grendel, of Hrothgar and the Dragon.

In this tale, Beowulf and Grendel were born twin brothers from Gertrude the half-breed beast. All three are tragically linked to the blood of the dragon and Hrothgar. The ancient tale of heroic tragedy – that of bloodshed, monsters, treachery and rejection – is the perfect concoction to get kids, mainly boys, to read.

The sweet scent of epical heroism is entrenched with diversity and multicultural mythos. At the end of book one the two boys, Beowulf and Grendel, set off on a quest to discover themselves and their destinies. In future installments, the twins will travel the continents interacting with numerous cultural mythologies and heroes. As the boys grow into men they will, ultimately, come to the place where the great Beowulf poem comes to fruition. For most of us, we already know what awaits the boys. It is their youthful, and fictional, journey to manhood that we will experience and appreciate.

Not only will we join the twins, but we will experience many of the world’s mythologies. I am ready for the experience; excited about the journey. Bring it on, Fajardo.

Fajardo gives us a kid friendly book. The art reminds me of the original BONE series: black and white line art with little shading. It makes the book clean for young students. Fajardo also inserts a lot of humor in the illustrations.

He does draw different distinctions between the prologue and the rest of the book. The prologue offers shading and more details, which helps readers make sense of the time line.

Prologue page 1.

Sample from the story.

Chris’ Rating: Ages 8 and older
Publisher’s Recommendation: All Ages

My experience leads me to believe that fictionalized stories with strong mythological themes and characters bring students, including elementary kids, to our most ancient of stories. Modern retellings have a knack of driving young male readers mad with excitement. It is my opinion that the KID BEOWULF series is just such a tale.

The story is a bit intricate especially for elementary students. There are a lot of characters and nationalities to remember, which gives teachers an excellent opportunity to promote the habits of reading slowly, reading in chunks, retelling, and re-reading. I often find that kids balk when asked to do this with an assigned reading, but I think students will be more than willing to exercise their good reading habits with KID BEOWULF. I also find that teachers can be reluctant to recommend tough books to kids thinking the Lexile is too high. I find that when kids are interested in reading, they will often attempt and succeed with books written at a higher level than the students are used to.

Naturally, mythological fiction is the perfect trajectory toward reading more about ancient mythology. There are various comic incarnations of the original Beowulf story, depending on the students’ age. You can read reviews of those stories here, here and here.

The next book in the series is KID BEOWULF AND THE SONG OF ROLAND. The title is intended to be a 12-part series. The twins will interact with mythology stories and heroes from various cultures and countries throughout the series, which is one more reason to stock it in your library.

Highly Recommended
I cannot wait to introduce my students to KID BEOWULF and then lead them toward comic adaptations of other mythologies, eventually steering them toward the original source material.

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