Thursday, September 15, 2011

D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths - Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire

Title: D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths
Author: Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
Publisher: The New York Review of Books, 1995 (Hardcover) (originally published in 1967)
Length: 154 pages
Genre: Children's Classic/Fantasy
Started: September 13, 2011
Finished: September 15, 2011

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.

I must've been deprived as a child because I only discovered the D'Aulaire mythology books as an adult. I stumbled upon the Greek Myths one years ago when I first exposed my nephew to the Percy Jackson books and he was into anything related to Greek Mythology. When I found out there was a Norse Myths book as well, I kept my eye out for it since I knew I'd want to add it to my collection. We're big on mythology in this household...we named our dog Freya and my husband briefly jokingly considered naming our child Thor ^^; I grew up on versions of the Greek myths but never was really exposed to the Norse myths until university, so although I do prefer the Greek/Roman myths I do think the Norse stories are pretty awesome too.

The D'Aulaire mythology books are just stunning to say the least. The illustrations are vibrantly colourful with a texture quality that you just don't see in modern picture books. Like the D'Aulaire Greek Myths book, the stories in the Norse Myths are presented in a somewhat linear fashion, each one is connects to the stories placed before and after it in the book. It's not a style you see often in mythology books (I find they tend to be written in entries like encyclopedias or in one-shot stories where all the backstory is either completely left out or explained in full), but I find that I like it done this way, it naturally flows from one story to another.

There's not much to say about this book aside from the fact that it's a classic for a reason and that everyone who read it as a child has fond memories of it. We recommend these books to our students when they do research projects on mythology, which considering that these books are from the 1960's is a pretty amazing thing. I now have both D'Aulaire mythology books in my collection now, which will eventually go on my daughter's bookshelf, and I can't wait to pass these on to her.

If you're looking for a classic book of mythology stories for your child, or even for an adult to enjoy, look no further. It's probably not the best idea to give this to a very young child though, I noticed the paper quality is a bit thin, so in order to avoid ripped pages you might want to wait until they are school-aged and more gentle with things.

Thoughts on the cover:
I like how the darker gray-blues of the Norse Myths cover contrast with the bright yellows and oranges of the Greek Myths cover. The image of Odin riding Sleipnir is a nice dynamic one.

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