The Iron Giant came to the top of the cliff.
How far had he walked? Nobody knows. Where had he come
from? Nobody knows. How was he made? Nobody knows.
Taller than a house, the Iron Giant stood at the top of the
cliff, on the very brink, in the darkness.
The wind sang through his iron fingers. His great iron head,
shaped like a dustbin but as big as a bedroom, slowly turned
to the right, slowly turned to the left. His iron ears turned, this
way, that way. He was hearing the sea.
His eyes, like headlamps, glowed white, then red, then
infra-red, searching the sea. Never before had the Iron Giant
seen the sea.
He swayed in the strong wind that pressed against his back.
He swayed forward, on the brink of the high cliff.
And his right foot, his enormous iron right foot, lifted – up,
out, into space, and the Iron Giant stepped forward, off the
cliff, into nothingness.
Down the cliff
the Iron Giant
head over heels.
I’m not sure how I missed this book for so long. It came out over forty years ago, but I had never heard of it before the (quite good, very different from the book) movie came out in 1999 and never read it until this week. This is one of the first times I’ve read a book with my oldest that I was really reading along with him–a book that I had never read before. Luckily, we’re in complete agreement–it is great–especially for reading aloud.
Perhaps it is a good thing I waited so long; the 2010 design and illustrations by Laura Carlin are captivating. I’m not particularly found of her illustrations of people, but they are completely overshadowed (in a good way) by her thoughtful spacing of the text, her portrayal of the Iron Giant, and her introduction of the space-bat-angel-dragon.
This book has been called both a tall tale and a fairy tale. Although neither label is wrong, they are a bit surprising; I would call The Iron Giant an excellent introduction to science fiction.
Author: Ted Hughes
Illustrator: Laura Carlin