Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

4.4 102
by Jessica Day George, Jessica Day George
     
 

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A girl travels east of the sun and west of the moon to free her beloved prince from a magic spell. See more details below

Overview

A girl travels east of the sun and west of the moon to free her beloved prince from a magic spell.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA
AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.

The "Lass" is a young girl from Norway who is so unwanted by her mother that she refuses to give her a name. She is simply called pika, which means girl or lass. But little do her parents know that she has a special gift enabling her to communicate with animals. The girl comes across an isbjorn (polar bear) and begins to realize he might not be all that he seems. She goes on a journey that takes her to a palace made of ice with many interesting creatures. The Lass goes in a wild ride through the four winds to try and defeat a troll queen and save her prince from an evil curse. George creates a visually stunning story that is part fantasy and part fairy tale. Although she uses a lot of words derived from the Old Norse language, there is a comprehensive glossary in the back of the book that defines each one. George makes the characters interesting while maintaining a fast pace that teen readers will enjoy. This book is a nice addition to libraries that have a large science fiction/fantasy following. The fairy-tale aspect of the book provides a nice hook for female readers while also offering good fantasy sequences for male teens. Reviewer: Robin Guedel
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)

School Library Journal

Gr 5-8- As the last born in a family of nine siblings, the lass is a source of great displeasure to her mother. Angry that she had been unlucky enough to produce a girl, the woman denies her a name. Nevertheless, the child finds happiness in a close relationship with her older brother. This closeness is broken when an enchanted polar bear enters her home and demands that she spend a year and a day with him in return for her family attaining riches and good fortune. This exciting tale built on the foundation of an old Nordic tale is a work of great beauty. George demonstrates her mastery of both Norwegian folklore and storytelling by taking an old yet familiar story and making it captivating from start to finish. As the nameless lass searches for the answers to the riddles that surround her and her loved ones, readers will find themselves engaged in the emotions and adventures that she faces. They will be taken on wild rides across the countryside on the back of a polar bear, experience life in an enchanted ice castle, and fly on the winds of the far corners of the Earth, as the girl moves swiftly toward her inevitable destiny.-Caryl Soriano, New York Public Library

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781599901091
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
01/08/2008
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.52(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile:
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow


By Jessica Day George Bloomsbury USA Copyright © 2008 Jessica Day George
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59990-109-1


Chapter One Long ago and far away in the land of ice and snow, there came a time when it seemed that winter would never end. The months when summer should have given the land respite were cold and damp, and the winter months were snow filled and colder still. The people said the cold had lasted a hundred years, and feared that it would last a hundred more. It was not a natural winter, and no one knew what witch or troll had caused the winds to howl so fiercely.

There was nothing to do in the long nights when the sun never rose and the day never came but huddle together by the fire and dream of warmth. As a consequence, many children were born, and as food grew scarcer, the people grew even more desperate.

It seemed that there was no bleaker place than the house of the woodcutter Jarl Oskarson. Jarl himself was a kind man, and devoted to his family. But Jarl and his wife, Frida, had been blessed, or burdened, depending on one's outlook, with nine children. Five of them were boys, who were a help to their parents, but four were girls, which displeased Frida greatly. She had no use for girls, she would say with a sniff as she sat by the fire. They were empty-headed and would one day cost the poverty-stricken family the price of a dowry. No one dared point out to her that the four girls did all of the cooking, washing, and mending, leaving Frida with ample leisure time.

So disappointed was Frida at seeing that her ninth labor had resulted in yet another worthless girl that she thrust the screaming baby into the arms of her eldest daughter, Jorunn, and refused to give her a name. Because the naming of daughters was a task for mothers, and her mother had refused that task, the ninth child of Jarl Oskarson remained nameless. They simply called her pika, which meant "girl" in the language of the North.

The nameless state of their last child worried Jarl. Unnamed children could not be baptized, and the trolls had been known to steal unbaptized babies. Jarl loved his children despite the family's poverty, and so he set out gifts to appease the troll-folk. Cheeses, honey-sweetened milk, almond pastries, and other delicacies that they could barely afford. Frida called it a waste, for she did not believe in trolls, but Jarl spent most of his days deep in the forest, and he had seen troubling things there. When the food disappeared, he held it up as evidence that such creatures were real, but Frida just sniffed that it was more likely their neighbors' dogs were growing fat while she starved.

When the pika was nine, the eldest child, Hans Peter, came home from the sea. He was a tall young man, blue-eyed and handsome, or at least he had been handsome before he left. Now, after five years aboard the merchant ship Sea Dragon, he was stooped and tired, his hair more silver than gold, and his blue eyes had a haunted look. He had traveled far, he said, and seen some things more wonderful than he could describe and others too terrible to relate. He had been injured on a journey so far to the north that sun and moon seemed to touch in the sky as they passed, and now he was home to stay.

This vexed Frida greatly, because she had been very pleased to send her eldest son into the world. There had been one less mouth to feed and the promise of wages sent home. But now Hans Peter sat all day in their cottage, carving strange figures on the firewood before dropping it into the hearth. Hans Peter's injury must have been healed before he returned home, or perhaps, Jarl told the others, it had not been an injury of the body. Whatever it had been, there was no sign of it now, save for the young man's melancholy.

But the pika worshipped him. She thought that her brother was still the handsomest man in the district, even though everyone else said that title had surely passed to the next brother down, Torst (for all the woodcutter's children were fair). But Torst liked pulling the youngest girl's braids and teasing her, while Hans Peter was soft-spoken and kind. He had learned some of the language of the Englanders on his travels, and he called the youngest girl "lass." It still meant nothing more than "girl," but it sounded prettier than "pika."

"Aye, lass," he would say, holding up a piece of wood he had been carving, to show her the strange, angular marks upon it. "This is 'bear.' And this here"-pointing to another-"is 'whale.'" And then he would cast the wood into the fire. And the lass would nod solemnly and snuggle close to listen to one of his rare stories about the life of men at sea.

Jorunn, who, as the eldest girl, had the charge of teaching the younger children their letters, scoffed at the lass when she insisted that Hans Peter's carvings were a sort of language. "It's not the language of England, that's for sure," she retorted, tossing another one of the carvings into the fire and using a bit of charred stick to write the alphabet on the scrubbed table. "For the priest says that every Christian land uses the same letters. And the priest went to school in Christiania." Her words carried a solemn weight: Christiania was the capital, and the priest was the only person for miles around who had been there.

But Hans Peter continued to show his little lass the carvings, and she continued to study them with big, solemn eyes. Of all the children, she alone had dark brown eyes, though her hair was more reddish than gold, which was not uncommon in that family. Before it went gray, Jarl had boasted the same color hair, and four of the nine children had inherited it.

When the lass was eleven, Jorunn married a farmer's son who was too poor himself to expect much in the way of dowry, and they moved into an extra room in his father's house. That same year, Hans Peter traded some of his more commonplace carvings to a tinker from the south, so the family got the flour and salt they would need to last another winter. He hadn't particularly enjoyed making wooden bowls and spoons, but the patterns of fish and birds he had carved around the edges of the bowls had made the lass clap her hands with pleasure.

Frida was marginally appeased, and a little of Jarl's burden was eased. And the lass grew, and Hans Peter carved. And the winter continued, without sign of spring.

Chapter Two In the North, they say that the third son is the lucky son. He is the one who will travel far, and see magic done. The third son of King Olav Hawknose had ridden the north wind into battle and returned home victorious, weighted down with gold and married to a foreign princess. In tales the third son is called the ash lad, or Askeladden, and he is both clever and lucky.

Hoping to inspire her own third son to such heights, Frida had named the boy Askeladden. The woodcutter's wife dreamed of one day going to live in the palace her own ash lad would build for her with the gold he found in a hollow log. Then he would save an enchanted princess and bring her to the palace to live with him and his doting mother.

Askeladden Jarlson was not the hero of legend and tale, however, and everyone but his mother knew it. He preferred drinking the raw ale of the mountains and dodging work to living off the land or his wits. And, as he told the young lass with a wink and a nudge, he much preferred saucy farmers' daughters to icy princesses.

This particular afternoon, Hans Peter had moved over on the bench and given the lass the place closest to the fire. He usually sat there for the convenience of the light and so that he could throw his shavings into the fire with an easy toss, but he did not need the heat. The cold did not seem to bite into his bones as it did to the rest of the family. He said it was because he had been to a place that was colder than hell, and nothing after that would ever be as chill.

"Here, lass," her eldest brother said, holding up a bit of wood. "What's this then?"

By twelve she could recognize many of the strange symbols. "Reindeer," she replied promptly. "But don't show Mother; she'll be so angry."

Hans Peter winked at her, in a much friendlier way than Askel had. "Don't you worry. Before you can wrinkle your pretty nose, this will be a spoon with flowers 'round the handle."

The door of their small cottage burst open, and fifteen-year-old Einar came rushing in. He left the door open in his haste, letting in the wind and snow. He stood in the middle of the main room, hands on knees, and wheezed for a few minutes.

The rest of the family, those who were at home at any rate, stared at him. It was some moments before sixteen-year-old Katla ran to close the door. She wheeled around to continue staring at Einar as soon as the heavy door was safely latched.

"In-in-in the vill-village," he gasped. "Jens Pederson said he saw it."

"Saw what?" Askel looked up from the corner where he was polishing his worn boots.

"Saints preserve me from half-witted children," Frida murmured to herself, and pulled her tattered shawl tighter about her shoulders. She picked up her knitting, ignoring Einar.

"The-the-the-," Einar stammered.

"The-the-the," Askel mocked, and went back to his polishing.

"The white reindeer," Einar spit out, making his family freeze in astonishment.

Stories of the white reindeer were as plentiful as stories of lucky third sons. Everybody knew that if you found the white reindeer, it would give you one gift. And what wonderful gifts the reindeer had granted! Fabulous dowries for poor fishermen's daughters, sacks of gold, new houses, kettles that were always full to the brim with delectable foods, seven-league boots, golden ships ... and many more wondrous things.

Everyone was on their feet now, jaws agape. Everyone except for Hans Peter, who shook his head and went back to carving. Askeladden crossed the room in two strides and grabbed Einar by the shoulders, shaking the younger boy.

"You are certain? The white reindeer was seen?"

Einar nodded, struck dumb once more.

"Where?"

"To-to the east, past Karl Henrykson's farm. By the three waterfalls."

Askel released his brother and grabbed up the boots he had been polishing. Thrusting his feet into them, he pulled on one of the patched parkas that hung by the door. Then he took down a pair of skis and poles.

"Don't wait up, Mother," he said gaily, and went out into the snow.

The other children, who until now had not said a word, all scrambled to follow. Frida made no remark as all her remaining children save Hans Peter and the lass divided up the warm clothes and skis and went out into the cold. When the last of them were gone, she turned to Hans Peter and the lass, displeased.

"Well, your brothers and sisters are determined to make this family's fortune, but I see that you are not," she snapped. She stalked over to the hearth and took up the spoon that Katla had been using to stir the soup.

"The little one is too young to be off in the forest chasing moonbeams," Hans Peter said. "And a nameless child should never wander in the woods."

"And what's your excuse, a great big man like you? Rather sit all day by the fire like an old woman warming your lazy bones?"

"The lass is too young, and I am too old," Hans Peter said mildly. "I went chasing moonbeams aboard the Sea Dragon, and I have always regretted it."

The little lass looked from her grumbling mother to her sad-eyed brother and didn't know what to do. She could remain here, she supposed. As Hans Peter had said, she was too young to be out in the cold, and night was falling. But what a glorious thing it would be to catch the white reindeer, the lass thought, and to ask it to make Hans Peter happy again.

"I'm going too," she announced, and got up from her place by the fire. She felt a little thrill of fear, but thought that if any trolls confronted her, she would claim to be her sister Annifrid.

"What?" Hans Peter looked startled. He dropped the piece of wood he was carving and took one of her hands in his own. "My little lass, this is not a good thing to do."

"I'll be all right," she told him, mustering confidence she did not feel.

"There are no parkas left," Hans Peter pointed out.

"I'll use a blanket," the lass said after a moment's consideration. She had set her mind to finding that reindeer, for Hans Peter's sake, and nothing would deter her.

"You'll freeze to death," their mother said shrilly. "If you'd wanted a parka to wear, you should have moved faster. Come and stir this soup; I still have stockings to darn."

"No." The lass put her chin up. "I will find the white reindeer."

"Then wear mine," Hans Peter said. He climbed up to the loft and the lass heard him rummaging in his sea chest. He rarely opened it, and she could hear the hinges squeak in protest when the lid closed. Hans Peter descended the ladder and held out a parka and a pair of boots. "These will keep you warm. And safe."

"Oh, I couldn't!" Her hands rose to her cheeks, stunned by the beauty of the items he held before her.

The boots and parka were lined with the finest, whitest fur she had ever seen. On the outside they were of softly felted wool as white as new snow, embroidered with bands of bloodred and azure blue. The spiky patterns of the embroidery matched the style of the carvings that Hans Peter made, but none of these symbols were familiar to the lass.

"You can and you will," he said, holding them out. "The boots are too big for you, of course. But if you keep your old boots on underneath, they'll work well enough. Strap on some snowshoes and you'll be able to walk like a bear. And the parka will cover you from stem to stern, which is a good thing in this cold."

"Those things are too fine for her," their mother snapped, her gleaming eyes checking the seams and verifying the quality. "We could sell them to the next trader for a pretty penny, and no mistake." She crossed her arms under her bosom. "Why did you not say before that you had such things to trade? And here the family is going wanting!"

"I'll not sell these for love nor money," Hans Peter said. His eyes held the dead look that they'd had when he first arrived home, the look that was only now beginning to fade.

"But," Frida began.

"I'll not sell these for love nor money," her eldest son repeated. "I earned them with blood, and I'll part with them when death takes me, but not before. The lass shall have them tonight, and after that, back into the chest they go!"

Not wanting to argue with him in this strange, fierce mood, the lass took the proffered clothing and put it on. The parka extended well past her knees and the boots rose to meet it. With her own scuffed boots underneath, they were just snug enough, and she had to push the heavy sleeves of the parka back in order to use her hands.

"I've never been so warm," she said in wonder. She had never known what it was like to feel the glow over your whole body that you felt on your cheeks and hands when you sat close to the fire.

Her brother pulled the hood up, tucking in her hair, and pulled the ribbons to tighten it around her face. "God willing, one day you shall be this warm all the time," he told her, his voice gruff with emotion. Then he held back the sleeves while she tugged on her mittens, and she went off in search of the white reindeer.

Chapter Three It did not take long for the young lass to find the trail of the other searchers. The snow had become so trampled and muddied that it was hard to see what they were following; any signs left by the white reindeer had long been obliterated. Even through the thick, fur-lined hood of Hans Peter's parka she could hear hounds baying and men shouting and cursing. She rolled her eyes at the foolishness of it. Any animal would bolt to hear such a din, and the white reindeer was a creature out of nature, a magical beast with the intelligence of a man. It would be long gone by now.

The searchers had gone straight up the side of the mountain, and the girl could see them now, struggling between the dense pine trees. So she went around the base instead, following a small stream that wound between the trees. The edges were iced over, but the middle still ran free where the flow was fast moving.

She was so enjoying the sensation of being warm, and making such good time walking along the bank, that she didn't realize what she was seeing when she rounded a boulder and came upon the white reindeer. The boulder had concealed a small, dense thicket. And caught in that thicket was the legendary creature itself.

It was as white, or whiter, than the snow around it. As white, or whiter, than the parka she wore. As white, or whiter, than anything she had ever seen. Its great rack of antlers was dark and burnished like polished wood, and its rolling eyes were blacker than soot.

"Oh, you poor thing!" The lass went forward to see if she could help. "You're trapped."

From the tracks in the snow, the reindeer had been coming down the side of the mountain and had slid down a small drop-off into the brambles. The animal snorted and tried to swipe at her with its entangled antlers as she approached, but the lass just clucked her tongue.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George Copyright © 2008 by Jessica Day George. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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