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Favorite Norse Myths

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From the creation of the universe, to its heroic battles for order, the fourteen intriguing myths in this collection come together to tell one powerful story. Young readers will be fascinated by characters like Odin, the greatest of gods, and the mighty Thor, who is able to take down vicious monsters much larger than himself. The powerful, beautifully written stories are graced by Troy Howell¹s arresting, dramatic paintings.

A collection of rarely retold tales from ...

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From the creation of the universe, to its heroic battles for order, the fourteen intriguing myths in this collection come together to tell one powerful story. Young readers will be fascinated by characters like Odin, the greatest of gods, and the mighty Thor, who is able to take down vicious monsters much larger than himself. The powerful, beautifully written stories are graced by Troy Howell¹s arresting, dramatic paintings.

A collection of rarely retold tales from the "Elder Edda" and the "Younger Edda," two six-hundred-year-old Norse manuscripts.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this stunning volume, Osborne and Howell return from Favorite Greek Myths and Mermaid Tales from Around the World to uncover a cache of tales from another dynamic tradition. Originating from the pre-Christian culture of the Vikings, these 14 legends taken from the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda largely revolve around the incessant squabbling among the energetic Norse gods and goddesses and the ominous frost-giants. Dwarves, dark elves and magical animals also play key roles, while plots feature clever disguises, spells and crafty ploys, many masterminded by this collection's liveliest character, the trickster god Loki. An abundance of well-pitched dialogue makes these potentially dense tales admirably accessible to the target audience. Howell's majestic art, rendered on rag board in acrylics with oil washes, conveys an impressive range of moods as it echoes the stories' key themes, among them the sometimes nebulous nature of good and evil, the effects of the gods' actions on the natural world and the rebirth of life after an apocalyptic confrontation between the deities and their foes marks the end of "time's morning." Subtle line drawings, re-creations of primitive Viking art, scratched onto the surface of each commanding, double-page painting enrich the historical patina. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
While the gods and goddesses of Greece conjure up images of golden adventure, the mythological powers of the Norse gods suggest shadowy and dismal forest haunts. From the dramatic creation myth to tales of heroes and love, these fourteen succinct myths, full of fantasy, are written with the flare of a storyteller and beg to be read aloud. Includes a final chapter with a who's who, pronunciation guide, and trivia that demonstrates how the Norse gods remain alive today-every Woden's day, Thor's day and Freya's day of the week.
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
This is a terrific collection of 14 Norse myths, with a "more about" section, bibliography and index. Using acrylics and oil washes, Howell has created one large, full-color illustration to accompany each tale in addition to interspersing his re-creations of ancient runic drawings throughout. Each myth is approximately 4 pages, each beginning with a small quote from the Poetic Edda (a definitive source of Norse mythology). Both teachers and parents will find these perfect for reading aloud. The large print, brevity, and simple language are pluses for the child reading to him or herself.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-An eye-catching, well-told collection of Norse myths by the team who created Favorite Greek Myths (Scholastic, 1989). In her introduction, Osborne says that her intention in retelling these myths was to "present the stories as simply and clearly as possible, without sacrificing their mythic tone." She certainly accomplishes her goal, for the 14 stories included here all possess a straightforward narrative but never lose sight of their power and magic. Among the myths included are "How Thor Got His Hammer," "The Golden Apples," and "The Death of Balder." Howell's illustrations are an ideal companion to the tales. Using a combination of acrylic and oil paints, the artist creates powerful and memorable images of the gods, goddesses, and giants who populate Norse mythology. While there are other excellent volumes on this topic, Padraic Colum's classic The Children of Odin (Macmillan, 1962) and Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire's Norse Gods and Giants (Doubleday, 1967; o.p.) among them, Osborne and Howell's title is both accessible and entertaining.-Denise Anton Wright, Illinois State University, Normal
Carolyn Phelan
Beginning with a quotation from Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" ("The only light in the darkness is heroism" ), this handsome volume introduces the framework and some of the tales of Norse mythology. Particularly at the beginning and the end of the book, the author summarizes the material, but in between are many dramatic tales, retold with clarity and grace. The unusual artwork combines acrylic paintings with line drawings reminiscent of Norse carvings in their simplicity and vigor. Each drawing appears once on its own and again (much larger) lightly superimposed on the surface of a dramatic painting. Howell not only achieves his stated aim that each full-color painting become a "runic drawing come-to-life," but also hints at how the symbolism of mythology underlies life. The book also shows how little we grasp of another culture from looking at its symbolic art, glancing at the bones without any notion of the flesh. The informative appendixes include glossaries of the gods, goddesses, giants, giantesses, dwarves, worlds, events, places, and things as well as discussions of symbols and runes. There is also a note on the art and a bibliography. A fine addition to mythology collections.
Kirkus Reviews
Brisk, workmanlike retellings of some of the major stories in Norse mythology, beginning with the creation and ending with the destruction of the world at Ragnarok, and including familiar tales about Thor, Loki, and Odin. A slow, somewhat confusing start gives way to well-told stories but it's the accompanying material that makes this volume exceptional. Each chapter begins with a quote from the Poetic Edda which, along with the Prose Edda, makes up much of the foundation of what is known about Norse mythology. The concluding chapter gives further information about myths and sources, pronunciation guides, information on symbolism and runes, and a brief entry on all of the characters and places. The striking illustrations will be carefully scrutinized; each full-page and double-page oil painting would be stunning in itself, but each one overlays runic drawings of the same subject; these hover, ghost- like, within each picture. Osborne's careful research and Howell's outstanding approach to illustration make this a worthy entry in the World's Great Stories series.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590480468
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/28/1996
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 810L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.34 (w) x 11.18 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Pope Osborne
Mary Pope Osborne
Mary Pope Osborne has channeled a lifelong love of exploration and travel into one of the most popular children’s book series of the past two decades. With her fantastic Magic Tree House series, Mary Pope Osborne keeps the good times rolling for kids all over the world.


Ever since 1992, Mary Pope Osborne has been thrilling kids everywhere with her delightfully exciting Magic Tree House series. The globetrotting escapades of time travelers Jack and Annie are brimming with adventure and magic (not to mention some subtly placed lessons on history and geography). With a life like Osborne's, it's only natural that she would be capable of bringing such wondrous stories to life.

Osborne was brought up in a military family, and her parents' work led to a lifestyle marked by constant change. "By the time I was 15," she says on, "I had lived in Oklahoma, Austria, Florida, and four different army posts in Virginia and North Carolina." While many kids would probably feel disoriented by such constant change, Osborne wouldn't have had it any other way. "Moving was never traumatic for me, but staying in one place was. When my dad finally retired to a small town in North Carolina, I nearly went crazy with boredom. I craved the adventure and changing scenery of our military life."

And adventure is exactly what Osborne got! After college, she embarked on a series of daring treks across the globe that would surely give Jack and Annie a run for their money. "For a while I camped in a cave on the island of Crete," she said. "Then I joined up with a small band of European young people heading to 'The East.' We traveled through 11 Asian countries and nearly lost our lives, first in an earthquake in northern Afghanistan and then in a riot in Kabul."

Following an illness she contracted in Katmandu, Osborne returned home to the U.S. trying her hand at a vast variety of jobs: window dresser, medical assistant, Russian travel consultant, waitress, bartender, and an assistant editor at a children's magazine. Although Osborne had unconsciously moved closer toward her ultimate career, she says that her first attempts at writing seemed to come without warning. "One day, out of the blue, I began writing a story about an 11-year-old girl in the South," she recalls. "The girl was a lot like me, and many of the incidents in the story were similar to happenings in my became a young adult novel called Run, Run Fast as You Can. Finally, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up."

She sure did! Since then, Osborne has penned a slew of stories, including picture books, chapter books, middle-grade biographies, and young adult novels; but she is indisputably best known for her wonderful Magic Tree House books, a happy hodge-podge of history and mystery with a time travel theme kids find irresistible. No doubt inspired by Osborne's own highly adventurous life, these exiting expeditions have attracted droves of children and pleased educators by combining compulsively readable storytelling with useful facts about geography and history.

As was written of the series in Children's Literature, "Mary Pope Osborne provides nicely paced excitement for young readers, and there's just enough information mixed in so that children will take away some historical fact along with a sense of accomplishment at having completed a chapter book." As much as Osborne has certainly pleased her readers (not to mention their parents and teachers), perhaps no one is quite as pleased as she. "I'm one of those very lucky people who absolutely loves what they do for a living," she explained. "There is no career better suited to my eccentricities, strengths, and passions than that of a children's book author."

Good To Know

A few fascinating outtakes from our interview with Osborne:

"One of the most defining experiences of my life was traveling overland in an old van through the Middle East and Asia in the early 1970's. One day, when a small group of us were camped in a remote part of northern Afghanistan, we saw a woman riding horseback over the sloping plain. Her long brown hair floated on the wind and she wore a bright gypsy-style dress. When she got closer, I realized she was one of my roommates from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill! Though I didn't even know she'd left the U.S.—and she didn't know I was in Afghanistan, we weren't that surprised to come upon each other. That says a lot about the times we were living in then."

"After 26 years of living in New York City, my husband Will and I now spend most of our time in Northwestern Connecticut, living in a house that overlooks a lake. We kayak and hike with our two Norfolk terriers, Joey and Mr. Bezo. Will's learning Italian, and I've been working with a tutor for two years trying to understand Dante's Divine Comedy. One of my biggest hobbies is reading philosophy and theology. We spend lots of time, of course, on our work. After writing three shows for the Morehead Planetarium in North Carolina, Will's writing a musical based on the Magic Tree House series. I'm writing book # 38 in the series. I also spend a lot of time with my sister Natalie Pope Boyce who works on the Magic Tree House Research Guides. Natalie and our nephews and some of our best friends live nearby in the Berkshires Hills of Massachusetts, so we're up there a lot, too. My only complaint is there is not enough time to do all I want to do. For instance, I'd love to take drawing classes and I'd love to paint the lake we're living on. And I'd love to bird watch and become a better cook and learn about classical music. Maybe sometime in the future...."

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    1. Hometown:
      Goshen, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 20, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Fort Sill, Oklahoma
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of North Carolina
    2. Website:

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2007

    Wonderful for everyone.:)

    Wonderful, Very descriptive and beautiful illustrations great for beginners and lover of Norse myths. I like in particular their versions of how the gods look this is also great for artists. And everything is clean so all ages can read. This is a must buy book! Just go buy it!!

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