Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Odd and the Frost Giants, by Neil Gaiman

Odd is a twelve year old boy living in Norway during the time of the Vikings. His father has been killed during a Viking raid, and his mother has remarried. Odd does not like his stepfather or his stepbrothers and stepsisters, so he sneaks out early one morning to live by himself in a remote cabin that his father had used for his hunting trips. On his way, Odd encounters a fox that directs him to an enormous bear that has his paw caught in a beehive. Scared but feeling sorry for the bear, Odd decides to free the bear and take his chances; he hopes that his kindness will be rewarded. Realizing that the bear is not going to devour him, Odd sets off again for the cabin, and is joined by the fox, the bear, and an eagle that had been watching the rescue effort the entire time. Odd and the animals share a meal and fall asleep in the cabin; in the morning, Odd is awakened by human voices, and his newfound friends inform him that they are really gods who have been turned into these creatures by the Frost Giant. They plead with Odd to help them in their battle to return to their normal selves, and he agrees. His encounter with the Giant is hilarious and clever. I won't spoil the ending by telling what happens--read it for yourself, or better, to children. It would make a great read-aloud to a class, and a wonderful springboard to a study of Norse mythology. 2009.
M. Cooney

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