Home > book reviews, prose > book review: Kid Beowulf and the Rise of El Cid

book review: Kid Beowulf and the Rise of El Cid

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Kid Beowulf and the Rise of El Cid is the latest in the Kid Beowulf series of graphic novels from Lex Fajardo, which make the classics approachable and fun. In Lex’s re-envisioning, Beowulf and Grendel are 12-year-old twin brothers, travelling the world (with their constant companion, Hama the pig) meeting many of the great epic heroes.

One of my favorite aspects of each Kid B book is a short opening section that tells the “classic” story as it has come down to us, with full drama and poetry the way the bards might have sung it, and then the story switches over to Lex’s own retelling.  For Kid B and El Cid, many may remember the classic movie with Charlton Heston and Sophia Lauren, but Lex takes on the story at a much earlier time, when a young not-yet-El-Cid Rodrigo is still struggling to find his place in the world. Along the way, young Beowulf and Grendel unknowingly take a few more steps toward their destiny, and (unintentionally) even start the first “running with the bulls” in Pamplona!

I’ve liked the Kid Beowulf series from the start, but it gets even better in this third book. There is new depth and shading, in the art, in the characters, and in the storytelling, which is very appropriate for young readers who are growing up with the twin brothers Beowulf and Grendel. In this installment there are also some strong female roles (Ximena, Queen Urraca, and Boudi), and a story that very organically touches on always-relevant issues of tolerance and empathy, without losing Kid B’s signature sense of humor and playfulness. I highly recommend it for both kids and grown-ups — I love it! (5 stars in Goodreads)

Kid Beowulf and the Rise of El Cid, by Alexis E. Fajardo. Published by Kid Beowulf Comics (2013). Previous books in the series were Kid Beowulf and the Blood-Bound Oath (2008) and Kid Beowulf and the Song of Roland (2010).

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