Reviews for Odd and the Frost Giants

Booklist Reviews 2009 July #1
Not to be mistaken as a follow-up to this year's Newbery winner, The Graveyard Book, this thin novella was written for Britain's World Book Day, an event designed to get kids excited about reading, and is now being published in the U.S. It follows the adventures of a Viking lad named Odd, who grows weary of his little village and sets out on his own. He encounters a talking (and bickering) eagle, bear, and fox, who reveal themselves to be none other than Odin, Thor, and Loki, banished from Asgard by a monstrous frost giant. Odd takes it upon himself to help the trio return home, using his wits and sense of compassion to dispatch the giant. Along with Gaiman's deft humor, lively prose, and agile imagination, a few unexpected themes--the double-edged allure of beauty, the value of family--sneak into this slim tale with particular appeal to kids drawn to Norse mythology, but suitable for any readers of light fantasy. Yet more proof that there isn't much Gaiman can't write well, be it comics, picture books, or novels for any age. Final art not seen. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2009 October
One boy's larger-than-life adventure

The mind of Newbery Award-winning writer Neil Gaiman must be a very animated, busy and slightly offbeat place—and thankfully so. Otherwise, adults and children alike would be missing out on some of the most inventive characters and stories of our time.

In this fantastical romp, laden with the echoes of Norse mythology, readers meet Odd, a 12-year-old Norwegian boy who is down on his luck. He recently lost his father, a master carver who dove overboard on a Viking ship to rescue a pony. Then, Odd crushes his leg in a tree-felling accident and is left to hobble about with one good leg, one bad leg and one wooden crutch.

Despite his moniker, Odd’s name doesn’t really fit him. He is, perhaps, the most normal character in this short, yet extremely compelling, novel. There are far more odd fellows the boy will encounter when he ventures out of his village—fed up with grumpy villagers and a drunken stepfather, and eager for adventure. It isn’t long before befriends a fox, a bear and an eagle—at least that’s what he initially believes them to be. Odd is soon enraptured and entwined in their spectacular tales of powerful gods, teasing goddesses, intimidating Frost Giants and a magical place known as Asgard.

Nothing is as it seems, Odd will soon learn. The woods are full of surprises, minds can play tricks and animals can transmogrify. The world of what is real and what is imagined soon melds together—with Odd smack in the middle.

In this magical novel, dry humor is woven into the concise text. Anthropomorphic animals, vivid imagery and fantastical happenings provide an extremely quick-paced and accessible introduction to mythology.

Readers, especially young boys, will easily be drawn into Odd’s excellent adventure, which is ultimately a satisfying coming-of-age story wrapped in magic and mythical overtones.

Sharon Verbeten is a freelance writer and former children’s librarian in De Pere, Wisconsin.

Copyright 2009 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Twelve-year-old Odd learns that a bear, fox, and eagle are really the Norse gods Thor, Loki, and Odin. A Frost Giant has done them this mischief, and blocked spring besides. Gaiman's impeccable narrative, swift-moving yet thoughtful, features lots of humor and pithy descriptions. Helquist's eight full-page drawings, distinguished by sturdy characterizations and angular drafting, deftly evoke Gaiman's wintry Norse world. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #6
Odd, twelve, has run away from his dreary Viking settlement, seemingly trapped in desolate winter. After freeing a trapped bear, he learns that the bear and its companions -- a fox and a one-eyed eagle -- are really the Norse gods Thor, Loki, and Odin. A Frost Giant, coveting spring-goddess Freya, has done them this mischief, and blocked spring besides; only in Asgard can the gods regain their true shapes. Odd contrives a rainbow bridge to get them there, then reasons with the giant, who's finding his successful coup inconvenient: Freya, though lovely, is too small and feisty for him, and his brothers don't want to join his siege. There's an entertaining whiff of political commentary here, plus some effective conflict resolution: "I am allow you to go home with your honor intact and a whole skin," Odd points out, sweetening the deal with something beautiful for the grateful giant to take with him. Gaiman's narration is impeccable, with lots of monosyllables (the eagle utters nothing but: "Rage!" "Death!") and pithy descriptions ("Winter hung in there, like an invalid refusing to die"). There's humor in many a turn of phrase. Even the most straightforward remarks are telling, while the framing story -- Odd's home life -- is resolved with a satisfying twist. Swift-moving yet thoughtful, a book to share aloud -- and then again. Helquist's eight full-page drawings, distinguished by their sturdy characterizations and angular drafting, deftly evoke Gaiman's wintry Norse world. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 September #2
Gaiman does it again, this time featuring a lame young boy, talking animals and intrigue in Asgard. Originally written for World Book Day, this sweet, wistful, slyly funny novella also offers a crash course in ancient Norse mythology. Unlucky Odd lost his father during a Viking raid (but not to heroics) and then crushed his leg trying to be a man. When an endless winter descends, he leaves his stepfather's home and is recruited by talking animals who are actually Thor, Odin and Loki, exiled to earth by a Frost Giant. Odd ultimately outwits the giant in a way that upholds and yet totally subverts the trope, at the end returning home still humble but successful and clearly destined for more adventures. Like George R.R. Martin's The Ice Dragon (2006), this succeeds both as a delightful children's book and an adult collectible. Children will enjoy Odd's quiet heroism and the simple adventure; adults will love the squabbling gods and the strong women (and the Frost Giant's response to feisty Freya!). All in all, another winner. (final art not seen) (Fantasy. 8 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2010 January/February
Gaiman is as deft at writing about Norse mythology as he is at creating eerie novels. Set in ancient Norway, a lame boy named Odd is taken on an adventure into Asgard, the land of the gods. Odd is disconcerting to most everyone he speaks to, including the banished gods Odin, Thor, and Loki, who have taken on animal form. Nothing seems to upset the logical Odd as the animals befriend him, hoping he can help them return to Asgard. Odd does just that, but in the process he must pit his simple logic against the whims of a frost giant smitten with the goddess Freya. Taking over Asgard is not as much fun as the giant thought it would be so Odd convinces him to go home. Odd also returns home where his mother is delighted to be reunited with her son, but clearly Odd is ready for another adventure; this time taking his Scottish mother back to her homeland. Readers, young and old alike, will delight in Odd?s tale, which is visually accompanied by art from the illustrator of Lemony Snicket?s A Series of Unfortunate Events series (HarperCollins). Recommended. Ruth Cox Clark, Associate Professor, Department of Library Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina ¬ 2010 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 August #3

In this simple but well-done tale, Newbery Medal-winner Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) introduces Odd, a boy with an injured leg whose Viking father died at sea. Odd befriends the Norse gods Odin, Thor and Loki, who have been transformed into animals and exiled from Asgard. The gods, having previously tricked and bested the Frost Giants, are now receiving some of their own medicine. Showing great ingenuity, Odd figures out how to reach Asgard and then convinces the Frost Giant that ruling Asgard isn't so great (after all, admits the giant, his prize, the beautiful goddess Freya, "only comes up to the top of my foot. She shouts louder than a giantess when she's angry. And she's always angry"). The gods and the giant, though powerful, come across as self-involved and vaguely simpleminded, clearly in need of a resourceful young fellow like Odd to help set things straight. Although less original than Coraline or The Wolves in the Walls, this enjoyable story should appeal to Gaiman's younger fans. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 October

Gr 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

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