Thursday, March 31, 2016

Secrets of the Ancient Gods: Thor Speaks by Vicky Alvear Shecter, illustrations by J. E. Larson

Although I haven't seen the overwhelming interest in all things mythology that surrounded the advent of Rick Riordan's original Percy Jackson series, there is certainly a growing body of work featuring the Norse myths and Shecter has brought out another humorous, informative guide narrated by the amazing Thor himself.

Thor would like you to know that all those stories about how dumb he is are just stories. He's really just as smart as he is big, and strong, and did he mention really, really strong? Really. Tough guy Thor walks readers through the mythology and early culture of the Norse, including myths and legends of his own great deeds (and a few of other gods, but those are much more boring and you can skip them if you want to get to the good parts, i.e. the ones about Thor). You'll learn why Odin only has one eye, why Thor hates giants, and just what a loser Loki really is.

The book is illustrated throughout in striking black and white pen drawings that may remind some readers of Edward Gorey's work. They strike a nice line between stylized and creepy. There's also a brief guide to Norse gods and monsters, glossary, secondary and primary sources, and index.

Verdict: This was a quick and fun read, perfect for kids wanting an introduction to Norse mythology. I'm always a little torn as to where to place these titles - they're not really nonfiction, or even a straight-up guide to mythology since they also include cultural facts and lots of humorous narrative. Anyways, promote this one with Riordan's new Norse mythology series and the other new fantasies based on Norse mythology or as a precursor to Ben Thompson's heavier (but just as fascinating and humorous) history of the Vikings.

ISBN: 9781620915998; Published 2015 by Boyds Mills; Purchased for the library

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