Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Last Chance for Scandi-Giveaway

Yesterday I spent a quiet afternoon out on my patio doing some bloggie "investigative research" -- perusing D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths in between reading chapters of The Brothers Lionheart.

Reading Norse Mythology is giving me some good insight into the strong influence Scandinavian folklore culture has had on the imaginations of creative writers like Hans Christian Andersen, Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson (to say nothing of J.R.R. Tolkien - who isn't even Scandinavian!)

Gnomes, dragons, trolls, feasts, gods and godesses, darkness and light.

Take for example, Astrid Lindgren's picture book The Tomten: The setting is a quiet farmstead, deep in the forest...
Here is a lonely old farm, where everyone is sleeping. All but one... 
a little gnome-like creature from Swedish folklore, a "Tomten" who guards the farm. No one has ever seen him, but sometimes his little footprints are visible in the snow. He checks on all the barnyard animals and talks to them in Tomten language (a silent little language only they can understand). He tiptoes to the house and peeks in on the sleeping children before going back to his cozy corner of the hayloft, where he dreams of the coming of summer.  

Or how about Lindgren's haunting story The Brothers Lionheart -- and her mythical land of Nangiyala, a place from "the days of camp fires and sagas"...
In Nangiyala you have adventures from morning till evening. 
That's what courageous Jonathan Lionheart tells his sick younger brother, Karl.  When both boys tragically die and are united in this "land beyond the stars", their adventures do begin. Together with a resistance group they go on a quest to lead the struggle against the evil Tengil, a black knight who rules the land with the aid of a fearsome fire-breathing dragon, Katla. (This is an engrossing, but sad book. Disclosure:  the brothers die again at the end.  For a full summary of the book, check out Read Aloud Dad's excellent review, here. I would recommend this book for kids no younger than 8 years old - but as always, use your discretion.)

I have to think Hans Christian Andersen was influenced by Norse Mythology when he penned The Snow Queen (and when C.S. Lewis thought up his White Witch) -- read the description of a beautiful maiden with an ice cold heart from the Book of Norse Myths by Edgar and Ingri D'Aulaire...
As she lifted her snow-white arms to push open the door to the hall, a strange radiance spread from them and lit up the gloom of Jotunheim...
He knew that the maiden he loved was Gymir's daughter Gerd and that he had no hope of ever winning her, for her heart was as cold as a seed in frozen ground.
(Luckily, in the Norse Mythology version her frozen heart melts.)

If you missed my post about Tove Jansson's Moomins, go here.  Unlike trolls and other monsters of dark Norse Mythology tales, Moomins are happy and kind of cute.  But similar to Norse Mythology, there are lots of magical adventures.  I have to say, I thought of the Snork Maiden losing her fringe of hair when I read the D'Aulaires' retelling of "Sif's Golden Hair".  Sif was Thor's wife.  After her beautiful hair is chopped off in the middle of the night by Loki, he promises to have the gnomes forge new hair for her - out of real gold!
Here's what happened with the Snork Maiden, who wasn't so lucky...
Moomintroll bent down to wake the Snork Maiden up, and then he noticed a terrible thing. Her beautiful fluffy fringe was burnt right off. It must have happened when the Hattifatteners brushed against her. 
What could he say? How could he comfort her? It was a catastrophe! 
The Snork Maiden opened her eyes and smiled. 
"Do you know," said Moomintroll hastily, "it's most extraordinary, but as time goes on I'm beginning to prefer girls without hair?" 
"Really?" she said with a look of surprise. "Why is that?" 
"Hair looks so untidy!" replied Moomintroll.

I hope you enjoyed my little comparisons.  I had fun doing the "research" reading yesterday!

Today is the last day you can leave a comment for a chance to win my Swedish Book Bundle Giveaway!  One lucky winner will receive all three of these great picture books: Per and the Dala Horse; Lucia Morning in Sweden; and D is for Dala Horse.

  • Leave a comment with your first name and last initial on my previous Giveaway Post - go here.
  • If you already left a comment there, you may comment again here (remember to include your first name and last initial) on this post for an additional entry. 
  • Giveaway ends at midnight tonight.  
  • Winner announced here on my blog on Saturday, August 27, 2016.  

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