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Children's LiteratureAGERANGE: Ages 11 up.
This "Myths of the World" series offers middle school and teen readers a look at the mythology of several ancient cultures in an appealing format with beautiful and well-chosen color illustrations. Starting with an introduction to world mythology, each volume presents a section about one civilization that includes a lovely watercolor map of their territory and continues to a second part that narrates important myths from original sources. In this book, readers will learn something of the harsh Scandinavian landscape and way of life, the ancient Norse concept of nine worlds held together by the ash tree Yggdrasil, and principal Scandinavian gods--the Aesirs: Odin, Frigg, Thor, Tyr, Balder and the Vanirs: Frey, Freya, and Idun. Author Schomp reshapes the stories adeptly, sometimes adopting an ancient voice ("The Norsemen Speak"), as in the myth "For the Honor of Thor." For example, shape-shifter Loki features prominently as a troublemaker and trickster in "Idun and the Magic Apples." The myths are accompanied throughout by photos of medieval prints, stone carvings, and modern paintings (one by William Blake and another by Edvard Munch), though most of the striking modern works, including drawings by English illustrator C. E. Brock, are not identified by artist and date. Special features include a list of books, films, and music influenced by Viking mythology, a discussion of the poetic and prose Eddas as sources, and a bibliography of books and websites that captivated readers can explore further (one might add Rosemary Sutcliff's novel, Blood Feud). Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft