‘The Iron Man 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.’
Is there a better opening in a children’s book – or any book for that matter – than Ted Hughes’ first few lines of The Iron Man? Brilliant in their simplicity, they establish a sense of mystery which runs like a thread throughout the book. What is most intriguing is that the beginning feels like the end, as the metallic monster appears to have reached the end of his journey at the top of a cliff, then topples over the edge to be smashed and scattered across the sand and the surf. But this remarkable, unusual start to the book entices the reader to speculate, to wonder and, above all, to read on.