The Trickster and the Troll

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The friendship and adventures of Iktomi and Troll, the trickster figure from Lakota legend and the well-known character from Norse mythology, are the subject of this imaginative, marvelously spun tale. The gentle, lumbering Troll meets Iktomi while searching for his Norwegian immigrant family, from whom he became separated while crossing the Great Plains. The vain, opportunistic trickster soon discovers that he has also lost his people, the Lakotas. When their peoples are eventually found, Iktomi and Troll are neither recognized nor wanted. The Lakotas and the Norwegians have changed and forgotten their friends. The lonely trickster and the Troll find solace in their friendship and take refuge in a cave. It will be many years before they are rediscovered and loved again for all they represent. Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, a well-known Lakota writer whose husband is of Norwegian descent, conceived of this story as a way to teach her children about their mixed-blood heritage.

Iktomi, a Lakota trickster, and a troll from Norway meet and become competitors, helpers, and friends as they try to hold on to the native ways that are being abandoned as more people settle across America.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The trickster, embodied in a nonhuman animal form, has certain human traits, including vanity and resourcefulness, that allow him to "trick" friends and foes in pursuit of his goals. The trickster folktale is usually part of a "talk story" tradition told around a campfire or kitchen table. In Owomoyela's English, Univ. of Nebraska series of 23 tales, the main character is `Aj'ap'a, a tortoise with human traits, strengths, and weaknesses who gets involved in relationships with animal and human figures. These tales introduce the folk culture of the Yorubas of West Africa. In contrast, Sneve, who has written Native American histories for young readers, here writes about Iktomi, the trickster from the Lakota legends, and Troll, a figure from Norse mythology. Troll is separated from his family while crossing the American Great Plains. The indomitable trickster discovers that he also has lost his people. When their "tribes" are found, neither Iktomi nor Troll are recognized or accepted. As a result, the Troll and the Trickster become "necessary" companions. Eventually, they are rediscovered and welcomed by their peoples. Sneve attempts to inspire here a spirit of cooperation and respect for the cultural traditions of others. Both works contain helpful glossaries. Recommended for multicultural and folklore collections.Vicki Leslie Toy Smith, Univ. of Nevada, Reno
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8--Combining traditions from her own Lakota heritage and her husband's Norwegian background, Sneve weaves a thought-provoking story of the Sioux trickster Iktomi's encounter with a giant Troll who followed members of the Norwegian family he has guarded for generations to this country. The friendship that develops supports the figures as the people who once celebrated their exploits in family storytelling lose their languages and traditions and turn away. Iktomi watches sadly as buffalo are killed; grasses are plowed up; and his Native American people, demoralized by hunger, illness, and perpetual war, go off to a reservation. Troll helps his European immigrant family with the plowing and the changing of the landscape but is similarly rejected by family members eager to adopt new American ways. Time passes while the abandoned folk heroes make a new home together in a cave in the Black Hills but, in a plot twist that mirrors the changing American metaphor from melting pot to tossed salad, Lakota and Norwegian-American families of the next generation welcome them back into their separate lives. Only a last chapter describing tales told about their cave suggests that their friendship might have survived. Lakota and Norwegian words are comprehensible in context and defined in a glossary. While the language might make this challenging reading for children, the story, like its models, would be entertaining read aloud and has strong regional interest.--Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC

"Adults will sense the poignancy of Sneve’s intended message that folkloric figures will live on only when people care to remember and pass on their tales, whereas children will read for the story and will sense the characters’ isolation and their joy when they find humans that remember."—Booklist
Rapid City Journal

"All children will respond to the love, loss, heartache and humor in this book."—Rapid City Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803292635
  • Publisher: UNP - Nebraska Paperback
  • Publication date: 2/1/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 110
  • Sales rank: 990,332
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, a well-known Lakota writer whose husband is of Norwegian descent, conceived of this story as a way to teach her children about their mixed-blood heritage. She is the author of many children’s books and of the memoir Completing the Circle (Nebraska 1995), winner of the 1992 North American Indian Prose Award. She and her husband live in Rapid City, South Dakota. She was awarded a National Humanities Medal in 2000.
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