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Review:  D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths

Review: D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths

All of the books my son is currently reading are based on mythology.  Whether it is one of Rick Riordan’s series or the Lord of the Rings;  Greek mythology, Norse Mythology, Egyptian mythology, they’re all refernced in some form or oanother, so we (well I)  thought it would be good to explore the original myths an not just adaptations.  Reading the original myths led to some great discussions about early beliefs, modern adapations and sources of inspiration for writing. He kept reading ahead, wanting to discuss the stories that I had forgotten about how the world was formed and while I didn’t read under the blackets with a flashlight to catch up, it did cross my mind… D’Aulaires’ Books on Norse and Greek myths are both excellent choices for children’s books on mytho9logy.  The book of Norse Myths begins with the Frost Giants at a time when there was no earth, no sun, no moon, and no stars.  The first gods, Odin, Hoenir and Lodur set the sun and moon to moving and the earth grew out of the bones of the old Frost giant they had vanquished.  The only thing they did not have was someone who would worship them, so they created man. Each chapter tells the story of a different god or goddess, from the more well-known Odin, Thor, Loki, to Sif, Loki’s children, Odin’s children, Balder the God of light, the world of the Vanir gods who controlled the mild and gentle winds, Freya the goddess of love and beauty, the Valkeyries, Frigg-Odin’s favorite wife, and of course Skade, the ski-goddess! Someone we definitely should know more about!  The gods were full of mischief and always getting into entertaining trouble or losing their favorite possessions like Thor’s hammer and Freya’s necklace, ruling until they were defeated by Christianity.   D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths is a great start to learning Norse mythology and it’s been fun sharing the stories my parents read to me as a child.  If you’re interested in adding D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths to your child’s library and sharing the stories you grew up knowing, click...

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Review: Who’s that knocking on Christmas Eve?-Norway with children

Review: Who’s that knocking on Christmas Eve?-Norway with children

We love Jan Brett’s books.  They are such great stories for reading aloud and the illustrations always provide so much for discussion. My children particularly like the sidebars which foreshadow what is going on with the other characters in the story.  Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve? retells an old Scandinavian folktale in which a pack of trolls eats a family out of house and home every Christmas.  In this version, a boy from Finnmark, the northernmost and easternmost county in Norway is skiing to Oslo with his polar bear. Skiing or hiking through the mountains from hut to hut is a popular pasttime and if you’re interested, have a look at the huts managed by Den Norske Turistforening (The Norwegian Trekking Association).  They offer guided tours and suggestions for independent trekking, though most people do not usually ski or hike the length of the country! The boy from Finnmark sees smoke curling up from a hut far in the distance and he skis toward it hoping for a bite to eat and a warm place to sleep for the night.  Little does he know that he’s not the only one who notices the smoke!  Kyri is busy preparing Christmas dinner and hoping that the trolls leave them alone this year when she hears a knock on the door.  She welcomes the boy from Finnmark, but warns him that there may be trolls.  In fact, her father is up in the mountains hoping to stop the trolls and chase them off. Glad to be warm, the polar bear crawls under the stove and falls asleep.  Just as Kyri and the boy from Finnmark are settling down to eat, the trolls arrive and Kyri and the boy from Finnmark quickly escape to the animal shed, leaving the polar bear asleep under the stove.  The trolls are initially content to just eat until they are stuffed, but eventually go looking for trouble.  One of them spies the “kitty” asleep under the stove and pokes the bear with a hot piece of sausage.  With a roar, the polar bear leaps up and chases the trolls out of the hut.  Hearing the noise, Kyri’s father quickly skis home.  He thanks the boy from Finnmark and invites...

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Review: Race of the Birkebeiners-Norway with children

Review: Race of the Birkebeiners-Norway with children

The Race of the Birkebeiners, written by Lise Lunge-Larsen and illustrated by Mary Azarian is based on a saga from 1264 of the rescue of young prince Håkon, the most powerful king that Norway had during the Middle Ages.  The woodcut illustrations capture the time period beautifully along with the emotions of the various participants.   The Birkebeiners were peasants and fierce warriors in the Middle Ages loyal to the King.  They were known as Birkebeiners for the birch leggings they wrapped around their legs for protection when they went into battle in contrast to the wealthy nobles who had metal armor.  Prince Håkon was born three weeks after death of his father, King Haakon Sverresson,  in 1204, and the Birkebeiners’ rivals, the wealthy Baglers, attempted to claim the throne for themselves.  The Queen, Inge, hid Prince Håkon for over a year, but as the Baglers became stronger, she fled North trying to reach the stronghold of the Birkebeiners in Nidaros where the Birkebeiners could help her protect her son.  Eight Birkebeiners joined her in Lillehammer as they prepared to cross the mountains at the darkest, coldest and most dangerous time of the year when hosts of evil spirits roamed the land.   Even though they make it through storms and harrowing nights to Nidaros, the story doesn’t end there…   This is one of the first stories we have disagreed about as a family.  I found it a little dry and was not sure it deserved a place on the blog, but my boys asked for it to be read to them over and over again. From their perspective what’s not to like?  Warring factions, escaping over the mountains, hiding in the snow, and everything works out in the end!   The Race of the Birkebeiners has turned into an annual event in both Norway and the U.S. with individuals in both races skiing 54 km (33mi). In Norway, the Birkebeinerrennet takes place from Rena to Lillehammer and in the U.S. it takes place in Hayward, Wisconsin through the American Birkebeiner Ski Association.   Nedros, or Trondheim, where Inga and young prince Håkon fled for safety, was founded in 997 and was the first capital of Norway.  It is currently the third most populous urban area in Norway and...

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