Top positive review
Great middle grade intro to Norse Mythology!
Reviewed in the United States on July 24, 2017
Why I Think Boys May Enjoy This
Well, first off I must admit that I am a huge fanboy for anything Neil Gaiman. That being said, this middle grade story falls into the category of must-read primer to Norse Mythology (in addition to, you know, Gaiman’s recently published collection of Norse stories). This one, however, is written with that middle grade audience in mind and does so wonderfully. It’s rare to get a “new” Norse Myth story but Gaimain does this with Odd. He uses the familiar framework (Loki does something to screw things up for everyone else) and creates an entirely new myth around Odd.
The story itself has an Aesop’s Fables feel to it with a familiar plot: magical animals appear to our would-be hero, who helps them even at risk to his own life. Of course, the animals turn out to be gods. In a very Viking way, however, Odd is rewarded not simply for his good heart, but for his bravery and cleverness in helping the gods take back Asgard from the Frost Giant that tricked Loki. Odd’s adventure with the gods is framed around a very nice story about a young boy losing his father and dealing with a disability, yet remaining positive and determined no matter what was placed in front of him.
It would be remiss to discuss this version of the book without giving credit to the amazing illustrations by Chris Riddell. In some cases, he was given a full two-page spread to work with and he did not disappoint. With his simple black and white drawings accented in silver (which is just gorgeous and found throughout), this is one of the prettiest books I’ve held in my hands in a while. Riddell’s art amplifies Gaiman’s story in a masterful way. Visions of the Norse gods as they are presented in actual Norse myth (not the Marvel comics version) are wonderful.
It’s a myth story, so normal myth stuff applies: temptation by beauty, death (but nothing cruel or gruesome), and hardships for our hero followed by rewards for his performance by the gods. There is clearly no language or content concerns across the board and the only real death is an “off-screen” death of Odd’s father by illness after nearly drowning in the frozen waters of the north.
The artwork is all G-rated and there is nothing to suggest that the youngest of readers couldn’t enjoy this story. It would make a great read out-loud story with its numerous large pictures and a strong reader as young as 8 could easily pick this up and run with it on their own. It is not watered/”dumbed” down for a young audience but is still more than accessible.
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