THE ADVENTURES OF THOR THE THUNDER GOD

Billing Thor as the Vikings’ favorite god, because he was “the biggest, strongest and bravest,” a veteran talespinner smoothly retells five of his better-known exploits, from feeding a poor family on two goats that magically reconstitute themselves in the morning to getting his stolen hammer back by impersonating the goddess Freya. He comes across as a blustery but compassionate sort here, ever ready to defend the gods against trolls and Jotun (giants)—though his own mother was a giant—and to forgive even the pranks of his Jotun foster brother Loki. In Madsen’s big, luminous digital paintings, the Jotun and dwarves—beetle-browed, bull-necked and scowling—look particularly thuggish next to the handsome, graceful residents of Asgard. As in the tales themselves, the tone is more comic than violent. Though the stories are easy to find elsewhere (Bruce Coville’s rendition of Thor’s Wedding Day (2005), illustrated by Matthew Cogswell, is particularly uproarious), all together they make an engaging gateway to the many larger collections of Norse myths, and are equally suited to reading alone or aloud. (source and reading lists, glossary, pronunciation guide) (Folktales. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 18, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-618-47301-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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AN AMISH YEAR

Readers follow a fourth grade Amish girl named Anna through the four seasons in a gentle tale from Ammon (An Amish Christmas, 1996, not reviewed). Perhaps in the spirit of Amish culture, the book does not engage reader through flashy illustrations or a kitschy plot. Instead, it offers a sense of serene assurance that arises from this community that is attempting to live according to its set of beliefs. Anna’s life, as with all Amish, revolves around the seasons, home, and farm. Hard work, milking the cows, tending the vegetable garden, and school take up most of her time, but that does not preclude fun; there is a time and place for everything in her life, including play when the work is done. Like the “English” (non-Amish), Anna and her friends enjoy softball, volleyball, flying kites, sledding, etc. Ammon makes Anna approachable, subtly revealing the similarities between her life and readers’ while illuminating the fundamentals of Amish culture. The well-researched, luminous illustrations resonate with the beauty of this life and are an integral part of the book. For a hurly-burly society, the notion of families gathering and caring for one another in an extended network of aunts, uncles, and cousins is inviting and accessible. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82622-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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AUNT PITTY PATTY'S PIGGY

Aylesworth and McClintock (The Gingerbread Man, 1998) tackle the story of the old woman whose pig won’t go over the stile, hindering her from going home. Here, the fat piggy is purchased at the market, but when it arrives home, it won’t go through the gate. The old woman, in this case Aunt Pitty Patty, enlists her young niece Nelly to go fetch help. Nelly implores a dog to bite the pig, a stick to hit the dog, a fire to burn the stick, water to douse the fire, etc. All the while, the piggy is parked by the gate reciting, “No, no, no, I will not go.” Aylesworth’s addition of the rhyming refrain preserves some of the cadence of the traditional tale, while softening the verbs (“hit” instead of “beat,” the rope “ties” instead of “hangs,” the butcher is to “scare” instead of “kill”) usually associated with it. McClintock emphasizes expression over action, and employs the same dainty brown line and soft watercolor wash of this team’s previous book. (Picture book/folklore. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-89987-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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