Odd and the Frost Giants

Common Sense Media says

Mythic fantasy adventure has a tender heart.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

An introduction to morally complicated mythological stories, Norse mythology in particular, and Viking raiders.

Positive messages

Might does not make right in this story. Cleverness, stoic bravery, and a willingness to look beyond the surface of things make Odd a very admirable hero.

Positive role models

Odd’s family came together in an unusual way, but there is a strong current of love tying the three together. The gods exhibit some of the less admirable human qualities, such as deceitfulness, lust and greed, bellicosity, pettiness.

Violence

The backdrop is one of brutality: Viking raids and crippling accidents, allusions to physical and verbal abuse, tales of violent confrontations between gods and giants.

Sex

Fleeting references, common in mythology, such as Loki’s scheming to “have my fun” with a beautiful woman.

Language

Very brief, occasional curses, including a giant talking about Thor’s “damnable hammer.”

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Both villagers and gods overindulge in mead.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know this mythological tale features some ugly behavior by both gods and men, but the under-appreciated, underestimated hero poignantly reveals that heart, not brawn, can win some battles. There is some drinking, trickery, greed, and brawling, most of it perpetrated by the gods. Odd’s mother was captured in a Viking raid but was treated lovingly by his father.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

Odd is a misfit in his Norse village. After the death of his father and an accident that leaves him crippled, he doesn’t seem to be much use to anyone. The villagers are growing restless as winter refuses to cede to spring, and Odd heads into the forest. He runs into a bear, a fox, and an eagle who have been transformed and exiled from Asgard, the city of the gods. Asgard is in the hands of the Frost Giants, and winter will not end unless they are driven out. The exiles believe the situation is hopeless, but clever Odd heads to Asgard to confront the Frost Giants and save the mortal world.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Odd lives in a brutal time and place. Might rules and the less strong are bullied and cast aside. No one quite knows what goes on in Odd’s head, and readers don’t get too close to him either. But they readily empathize with him as he seeks the comforting presence of his late father, strikes out on his own, and matter-of-factly sets out to clean up the mess when the gods have thrown up their hands. It’s no surprise that the underdog will find a way to best the mighty Frost Giant, but the moment when Odd begins to strip away the bellowing bravado, the intimidating brute strength to lay bare a lovely truth is breathtaking. “I rule Asgard!” the giant thunders. “Why?” asks Odd. That simple question, one that is never asked enough, proves to be a mighty blow.

This satisfying, compact adventure invites kids to wrestle with some morally ambiguous material. It's a good introduction to the many shades of gray in mythology. The storytelling is focused and tight, and the climactic scene between Odd and the giant offers plenty for kids -- and adults -- to think about. This is a good one to read together, curled up on the sofa, on a wintry day.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the mythological gods and Loki. They are fantastically powerful beings with great responsibility for the fate of mortals. Why do they behave so badly?

  • Women are at the center of much of the violence in this story, from the abduction of Odd’s mother to the mythic beings stubborn pursuit of Freya. Compare the qualities of the female characters with the adult male characters.

  • How do you feel about the Frost Giant as he departs for home? Do you see him as defeated? Was he tricked? Do you think he’ll return?

  • The gods never know exactly how Odd defeats the Frost Giant. Why doesn't he tell them the true story? Would it matter if he had?

Book details

Author:Neil Gaiman
Illustrator:Brett Helquist
Genre:Fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:September 12, 2009
Number of pages:128
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:8
Read alone:9

This review of Odd and the Frost Giants was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byEezreviews October 21, 2009
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

A twist on mythology that will make kids enjoy it

While this is a fairly simple book, it also is a fun twist to mythology, bringing norse gods down to the level of people who make big mistakes that need to be resolved by the hero, Odd. While Odd is an unlikely hero, he is also one that kids might identify with since he has his share of troubles and he does things in a that would make sense to kids.

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