What parents need to know
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.
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?
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?