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.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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 - Deborah Zink Roffino
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.
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
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
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
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.
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.