Long-recognized master of Norse mythology Kevin Crossley-Holland pairs with award-winning artist Jeffrey Alan Love for an exceptional look at the Viking gods.
A collaboration by two talented creators provides the perfect means to delve into Norse mythology and pore over the enthralling exploits of all-powerful Odin; mighty Thor and his hammer, Mjolnir; and Loki, the infamous trickster. From the creation of the nine worlds to the final battle of Ragnarok, Carnegie Medal winner Kevin Crossley-Holland details the Viking gods as never before, while Jeffrey Alan Love’s lavish illustrations bring the mythic figures to life on the page. Readers will be caught up in the seesawing struggle for power between gods, dwarfs, and giants, punctuated by surprising love matches, thrilling journeys, and dazzling magic. With its well-researched, lyrical prose and its dramatic and powerful artwork, this wonderful gift edition makes the perfect book for both the staunchest fans of mythology and newcomers with no knowledge of Viking folklore.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Mild sexual themes
Booklist starred (October 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 4))
Grades 7-10. When he was a boy, Crossley-Holland writes, reading Norse myths made him yell and laugh and cry. Today, though the Carnegie Medal–winning author’s imaginative retellings of these ancient stories may still foster yelling and crying, there will be precious little laughing, as the myths are somber in tone and heroic in execution. They begin, logically, with the beginning of the world, and end, tragically, with the death of the gods, but with the hopeful hint of a new beginning. The principal players in these timeless tales are Odin, ruler of the gods; Thor, his mighty, hammer-wielding son; and the shape-shifting trickster god Loki. It is the clever Loki who is the most interesting of the three as he evolves from an antic, sometimes annoying presence to a jealous, vengeful being that brings about the death of Balder, the most beautiful and beloved of the gods. Crossley-Holland’s inspired text is straightforward and largely unadorned in a way that makes it timeless. Meanwhile, Love’s eye-popping expressionist illustrations, rendered in acrylics and ink, decorate almost every page, beautifully creating an often sinister atmosphere that expands the tone of the text. Together words and pictures work to memorable effect, doubtlessly inspiring their young readers to yell and cry. The myths have seldom been better served.
Kirkus Reviews (October 1, 2017)
Twenty tales of gods, giants, and dwarfs, of mighty feats and epic trickery.Veteran storysmith Crossley-Holland has presented versions of these extracts from the Prose Edda before, but here he recasts them into stately retellings that get extra measures of menace and gloom from the heavy shadows and big, indistinct figures that Love places on nearly every double-columned spread. Opening with tributes to the myths and to Snorri Sturluson, their medieval Icelandic recorder, the author moves on to the stories themselves. He includes such familiar episodes as the building of Asgard’s walls, Thor’s “wedding,” (which, what with its closing massacre, comes off as more grimdark than humorous, as played elsewhere), and the death of Balder within the frame story of the Swedish king Gylfi’s sojourns to Valhalla. There he hears from a mysterious, enthroned trio (some of the original source’s Christian inflections are left in for observant readers to notice) of Yggdrasil, the nine worlds, and, finally, the deaths of Odin and the rest. The major themes of deceit and violence play louder here than loyalty, justice, or some other positive value, and women (along with Bragi, the “pink cheeked and girlish” god of poetry) are relegated to minor roles. Still, the tales are colored as much by their depictions of courage in the face of certain ultimate doom as by the illustrations and are thus powerful in emotional resonance—not to mention chock-full of bold deeds, glittering treasures, and scary monsters. Lavishly illustrated and strongly atmospheric—as well suited for reading aloud as alone. (schematic of the nine worlds, cast of characters) (Myths. 11-13)
About the Author
He often lectures abroad on behalf of the British Council, regularly leads sessions for teachers and librarians, and visits primary and secondary schools. He offers poetry and prose workshops and talks on the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, King Arthur, heroines and heroes, and myth, legend and folk-tale.
After seven years teaching in Minnesota, where he held an Endowed Chair in the Humanities, Kevin Crossley-Holland returned to the north Norfolk coast in East Anglia, where he now lives. His website is www.kevincrossley-holland.com.
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