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Odd and the Frost Giants Hardcover – September 22, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 3–6—Using several figures from Norse mythology, Gaiman has written a thoughtful and quietly humorous fantasy that younger Percy Jackson fans will enjoy. Twelve-year-old Odd hasn't had a good couple of years: his father died rescuing a pony that fell overboard during a Viking raid, his leg was crippled during a tree-felling accident, and his mother married a man he dislikes. So, in the midst of what should be spring ("Winter hung in there, like an invalid refusing to die"), he sets out for a cabin in the wilderness, figuring that anything will be better than home. Soon after arriving, a fox leads him to an enormous bear whose paw is caught in a tree; a large eagle circles overhead. Odd shows kindness and bravery when helping the bear, learning afterward that these three animals are gods who have been transformed by the Frost Giant. Odd is determined to help them, and his ultimate encounter with the Frost Giant is especially interesting, tweaking the tradition of small boys getting the better of giants. Readers will also enjoy Odd's interaction with the animals, Gaiman's simple and graceful writing, and the satisfying conclusion.—Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL END
About the Author
Neil Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains; the Sandman series of graphic novels; and the story collections Smoke and Mirrors, Fragile Things, and Trigger Warning. He is the winner of numerous literary honors, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, and the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. Originally from England, he now lives in the United States. He is Professor in the Arts at Bard College.
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The fact Odd has to puzzle out problems in order to achieve his goals, makes this a great story for parents to read to their young children. There's no horrible violence, none of the animals gets hurt, and it doesn't take itself to seriously. I especially enjoyed Odd's reasons for believing ice imprisons rainbows. It's cute and clever and adds to the magic of the story without the need for wizards in pointy hats.
If you enjoy Norse myths and are up for a more light-hearted take on coming of age stories, 'Odd and the Frost Giants' is worth picking up. It's a short, happy tale to read during a gray winter day.
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.
4/5 Giant Cartoon Mallets from Toonopolis, The Blog's Books for Boys Review
Ok, probably not given the timing of everything. But the similarity of the prose between the two is simply profound. I picked this up within days of finishing Norse Mythology, and it was as though I had never stopped reading.
As with all of Mr. Gamain's books, the writing in this is superb. In particular, there is something about the way he has written this and Norse Mythology that makes them feel old, in an antique, biblical sort of way. The style fits very, very well with the setting.
The setting is... not what I expected. I expected a story more in the vein of Beowulf. Instead, this was a romp through the mythology of Loki (the fox), Odin (the eagle), and Thor (the bear), kicked out of Asgard by none other than the frost giants. While a good read, it wasn't great. It was, as with most mythology, oddly alien and remote. This is a fine thing, as it is a great introduction to Norse mythology for kids.
With that said, this will be a book I expect my daughters to either read with me or ask a TON of questions (both of which are fine). There is simply too much subtle interaction going on in the background between the three gods for her to simply pick up and read away. If any kids book is a "this needs to be read twice to really get it," this is it.
I am certainly not disappointed with the purchase. Just not quite what I expected. As a comparison to Mr. Gaiman's other kids books, this is certainly not the masterpiece of adventure/horror "Coraline" nor the silly read-it-whenever adventure of "Fortunately, the Milk." A solid, if slightly niche, addition to our growing library of Mr. Gaiman's books.
Most recent customer reviews
I liked Odd from the first moment he first appeared in the plot.Read more