cover image Bea Wolf

Bea Wolf

Zach Weinersmith, illus. by Boulet. First Second, $19.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-250-77629-7

Taking the source material as a starting point, this lovingly crafted retelling sets Beowulf among bold suburban children for whom mischief and misbehavior are all. The remix kicks off with an entire chronology of kid-lords, starting with Carl, whose discovery of a golden treasure begins a legendary toy hoard, and continuing down the line to Roger, who establishes a magnificent tree house. Treeheart, as it is known, attracts the wrath of joyless adult Mr. Grindle, whose touch ages kids out of childhood. When Grindle wreaks havoc on Treeheart and adults its inhabitants, mighty five-year-old Bea Wolf, “forged in sparkles and fury,” comes to aid Roger and “banish the hall-beast.” Leaning into alliteration, wordplay, and imagery-rich kennings, Weinersmith (Soonish) creates a joyously lyric, rapid-fire epic that honors the original’s intricate linguistic constructions. Close-hatched b&w cartooning from French artist Boulet vividly illuminates the text, presenting in full spreads and paneled vignettes a racially diverse cast of fierce, distinctively rendered children. It’s a truly fresh, inventive remix that privileges childhood’s insular sensibilities alongside an unsettling truth: “Time lingers for no kid.” Extensive back matter affectionately and accessibly contextualizes Beowulf’s history and construction. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)