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D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths Hardcover – May 31, 2005
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— The New York Times
"Out of print for many years, Norse Gods and Giants has been very handsomely reissued by the The New York Review Children’s Collection and retitled D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths. Featuring a sturdy sewn binding, the book arguably represents the pinnacle of the d’Aulaires’ achievement as storytellers and artists….the prose seems livelier and more robust in the Norse myths than in the Greek…Their retelling of the Greek myths for children had to pull its punches somewhat….but since sex doesn't feature as prominently in Norse mythology, this book is able to stay scrupulously faithful to the Edda and still maintain its PG rating. But not to worry: there’s still a lot of drinking, fighting and bad behavior, particularly on the part of fiery Thor, who is forever whacking frost giants on the head with his hammer, and the highly entertaining Loki, who is one of the most complicated and devious characters in anybody’s mythology, anywhere. Loki is the Bart Simpson of Norse mythology, forever pulling pranks, forever getting caught and forever talking his way out of the consequences…"
— The New York Times Book Review
"[These] works, especially the books of Norse and Greek myths, were and remain crucial to me, and now to my own children. The interest in mythology that was kindled by those two books has endured throughout my life, and has directly influenced my own writing in countless ways…The Norse book was always my favorite, though. I must have read it a dozen times at least by the time I was nine or ten."
— Michael Chabon
About the Author
The couple married in Norway, then moved to Paris. As Bohemian artists, they often talked about emigrating to America. “The enormous continent with all its possibilities and grandeur caught our imagination,” Edgar later recalled.
A small payment from a bus accident provided the means. Edgar sailed alone to New York where he earned enough by illustrating books to buy passage for his wife. Once there, Ingri painted portraits and hosted modest dinner parties. The head librarian of the New York Public Library’s juvenile department attended one of those. Why, she asked, didn’t they create picture books for children?
The d’Aulaires published their first children’s book in 1931. Next came three books steeped in the Scandinavian folklore of Ingri’s childhood. Then the couple turned their talents to the history of their new country. The result was a series of beautifully illustrated books about American heroes, one of which, Abraham Lincoln, won the d’Aulaires the American Library Association’s Caldecott Medal. Finally they turned to the realm of myths.
The d’Aulaires worked as a team on both art and text throughout their joint career. Originally, they used stone lithography for their illustrations. A single four-color illustration required four slabs of Bavarian limestone that weighed up to two hundred pounds apiece. The technique gave their illustrations an uncanny hand-drawn vibrancy. When, in the early 1960s, this process became too expensive, the d’Aulaires switched to acetate sheets which closely approximated the texture of lithographic stone.
In their nearly five-decade career, the d’Aulaires received high critical acclaim for their distinguished contributions to children’s literature. They were working on a new book when Ingri died in 1980 at the age of seventy-five. Edgar continued working until he died in 1985 at the age of eighty-six.
Michael Chabon is the author of several books, including The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Klay, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son and, most recently, Telegraph Avenue.
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the things that most struck me about the wooing and fighting gods of Asgard was that they were mortal. The world tree, Yggdrasil, was threatened by a dragon in Niflheim that gnawed at its roots; and the giant wolf Fenris was hogtied by a magic cord. Around the same time, both of them cut loose and attacked. What ensued was Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods.
Why the old Norse peoples should have killed off their gods was always a question in my mind. Did it happen before or after Olaf Tryggvason, the Kind of Norway, was converted to Christianity around the year A.D. 1000? It does make some sense to establish the new religion by dusting off the old.
This book has stayed with me for the better part of a lifetime. As a parent, I think you can certainly do worse than sharing this memorable book and its glowing illustrations with your children.
One little footnote: Last Christmas, I sponsored a wolf at the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in Ramah, NM whose name is Fenris. Look out, world!
The stories are well researched and well told. The illustrations are great--if you are familiar with other works by the d'Aulaires you will know what I mean. This is a great Norse mythology for children.
If you enjoy reading folktales and mythology to your children, please buy this book for them. Or, if you're an adult who enjoys mythology, buy it for yourself. The tales are retold charmingly, and the artwork is astounding. I love all of the books by the D'Aulaires, but this one is, without a doubt my favourite. I can promise with 99% certainty that you'll really enjoy this book.
Almost-eight-year-old Alex found it, read it in one sitting, and then sighed "I'm so sorry I finished- it's like saying goodbye to a dear friend."
Like all the D'Aulaire stuff it's beautiful, engaging, and totally bearable to adults to read, even as it is appealing to kids. Unlike the others though, it is usually totally unfamiliar to them. Everyone knows the Greek stories, but these are far less well known, and therefore all the more worth discovering.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a classic, and is still as good as ever. Informative readable text, delightful Scandinavian style pictures.Published 21 days ago by George Allan
gorgeous illustrations with G rated tales of Norse myths. Check out The Greek Myths by the same family. Even better!Published 22 days ago by Anna Ferguson
Absolutely Perfect for my two kids, ages 5 and 7. They have a pretty good vocabulary though, and a willingness to learn new words. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Eric
This book and the one of Greek myths by the same couple were my childhood! I remember borrowing these over and over from my school library when I was in second grade, because I... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Adela
My parents read all of D'Aulaires mythology book to me when I was a little guy instead of nursery rhymes or Winnie the Pooh, etc. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Xanadu West
Great book. Bought it for my son, but ended up reading it myself.Published 1 month ago by Torsten Rohlfing
These are fantastic stories and I lvoe this as anightly reader for my son.Published 1 month ago by B. Reese