Beowulf and Grendel’s ancient road trip has taken a drastic turn in their newest adventure. Author and illustrator Alexis E. Fajardo takes his readers to the early days of Ancient Rome in his newest graphic novel Kid Beowulf: The Tarpeian Rock. Using his artistic creativity and storytelling, Fajardo treats young readers to an action-packed story with gladiators, large wolves, feisty girls, and a sword wielding pig.
Among the seven hills of ancient Italy, Beowulf and Grendel are forced to fight in the gladiatorial games. They become an unstoppable force, but the games have changed Grendel into a ferocious monster. As the twins try to find their way out of the arena, another pair of twins plot a rebellion. The unfair treatment of the Sabines by the Latins has reached a breaking point, prompting wolf twins Romulus and Remus, along with their friend Tarpeia, to sneak into the games and try to assassinate King Titus. But when one of the boys is arrested and the other goes into hiding, it may take more than a small band of rebels to set things right within the Italic tribes.
Those who have read the previous books in the series will definitely want to read this next installment. The myth of Romulus and Remus is retold with scenes of familial love and gladiatorial fights surrounded by references to the original story. Dramatic and heartfelt scenes move the story along, providing characters with the drive to do what is right. Expansive views of ancient Italy can be found throughout the story, with bright or dark colors signifying the time of day and landscapes dotted with forests and Roman architecture. But a Kid Beowulf story would not be complete without some comedy. Brotherly banter between twins Romulus and Remus will bring a smile to the reader’s face and the liberation of Hama the pig and Nagling the talking sword is reminiscent of slapstick comedy and the antics of animal sidekicks. As with his previous novels, Fajardo includes background information on the history of Ancient Rome and the mythological tale of its founding, pictures from his trip to Italy that provided inspiration, character descriptions, a bibliography, and a detailed account of his creative process.
Public and school libraries, especially those who have the first three volumes of the series (The Blood-Bound Oath, The Song of Roland, and The Rise of El Cid), should collect this title. Readers in grades 4th-6th will enjoy scenes of comedic action and become interested in the historical and mythological references that are found within the story. And with a cliffhanger that drives the story in a new direction, they will definitely ask for the next installment.
Kid Beowulf, vol 4: The Tarpeian Rock
By Alexis E. Fajardo
Kid Beowulf Comics, 2021
Series ISBNs and Order
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13)