D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths
The Caldecott medal-winning d'Aulaires once again captivate their young audience with this beautifully illustrated introduction to Norse legends, telling stories of Odin the All-father, Thor the Thunder-god and the theft of his hammer, Loki the mischievous god of the Jotun Race, and Ragnarokk, the destiny of the gods. Children meet Bragi, the god of poetry, and the famous Valkyrie maidens, among other gods, goddesses, heroes, and giants. Illustrations throughout depict the wondrous other world of Norse folklore and its fantastical Northern landscape.
"…a mythological tour de force."
— 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
Ingri Mortenson and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire met at art school in Munich in 1921. Edgar’s father was a noted Italian portrait painter, his mother a Parisian. Ingri, the youngest of five children, traced her lineage back to the Viking kings.
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.
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
Furthering our Knowledge
By Lovely Reader
I have the D'Aulaires Greek Myths and love it. Super glad that I added the D'Aulaires Norse Myths to our collection. My oldest son 13 is reading this to further his knowledge of the myths. However, I'm reading it to my little ones ages 8 & 10 to give them an understanding of the myths to go along with our Viking study in our homeschool. I believe this book is great for any age 6 and above. I find this book interesting myself. Written in a story manner, not textbook. Never boring! The pages are very delicate though they are made of a color page like paper. The illustrations aren't as vivid like I would hope. The greek myth book has vivid pages. I do love the hard cover of this book. Another wonderful book to further our learning as a homeschooling family!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
Such a Wonderful Book!
By Justin Keen
This is just a fabulous book. There are wonderful illustrations and the stories are written to entertain children as well as adults. I used this for a unit I taught to 3rd and 4th graders on Norse culture, and actually read it myself first to better understand the people. It is well written, but not too long so as to loose the interest of younger minds. There is a great glossary, and a fabulous tree in the back to show the realms of the Norse worlds. This is a must have for any child interested in The Norse culture or mythology in general.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
I love the d'aulaire books. This one is no exception - it's great for kids and grown-ups alike, and there's lots of pithy myths here to read to the kids and talk about with them. Such great lessons in most of them.
I have three quibbles:
1. Women in these myths are minimized...even more than I believe they are in the actual unadulterated original versions. The goddesses were strong and independent, but the book makes them out to have been largely marginalized and unimportant. Even Freya is largely just for show.
2. There's no pronunciation guide. One of my professor friends pointed out that j is pronounced like a y, which helped enormously, but it would be nice if there were a guide.
3. There's a brief post-ragnarokk chapter. That makes no sense. It's very monotheistic, too, which is weird. I'm half inclined to just rip it out - the world should really end and that's it.
My wife says it's not appropriate for my five-year-old daughter even though I read it to her every night.