Hi everyone, welcome to another week of epic fantasy and high drama. In this week’s post I’ll be giving you and your tween a selection of titles that have a distinct Scandinavian flavour to them. So, if you were looking forward to this post, then why not go ahead and press the button…
To be honest I hadn’t heard much about Scandinavian folklore until I read these books. What little I had read or learned about was of the Norse myths. Little did I know that the whole region of Scandinavia is rich in stories such as these. I hope you enjoy the three titles I have listed for you!!
My first selection, Winterfrost by Michelle Houts, is actually a contemporary novel with fantasy elements blended into it. In this read we meet twelve-year-old Bettina Larsen and her baby sister Pia, as they settle in for a typical Danish Christmas. However, a sequence of unexpected events take their parents away for a few days, leaving Bettina in charge of the house, the barn, and baby Pia. Amidst the confusion, Bettina’s family neglects to set out the traditional bowl of Christmas rice pudding for the tiny nisse, a gnome-like creature who’s rumoured to look after the family and their livestock. This leads the young nisse to take his revenge on the family by carrying the sleeping baby away with him!! With her parent’s return looming, Bettina must do everything she can to get her sister back and set things right – even if it means entering the magical world of the nisse. This was a beautifully written book and tells a gorgeous story of love and loyalty. I had no idea of Danish folklore until I had read this book and I found myself fascinated being immersed in the world of the ‘nisse’. Readers will love the courageous and kind character of Bettina as she forges her way deep into a mythical world to bring her baby sister home.
The next one, West of the moon by Margi Preus, is actually a blend of several folktales and myths. It also has a slight historical feel to it as the author has based the story around a passage written in the diary of her great-grandmother when she emigrated from Norway to America. We meet young Astri who has been sold to a cruel goat farmer by her grandmother and follow her on her journey. I got the feeling this was a blend of other myths and legends as it had a magic hair brush, a mysterious companion who can spin straw into gold, and adventures with trolls and their treasures intertwined with Astri and her sister’s quest to reunite with their father!! I hope young readers will enjoy the interesting storyline and characters in this read as much as I did!!
The last selection is East by Edith Pattou. This is actually the first in a series. It’s also a re-telling of the classic Norwegian folktale, East of the sun and west of the moon. Our main character is Rose, who is the youngest of seven children, meant to replace her dead sister. Maybe because of that, she’s never really fit in. She’s always felt different, out of place, a restless wanderer in a family of homebodies. So when an enormous white bear mysteriously shows up and asks her to come away with it – in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family – she readily agrees. Rose travels on the bear’s broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart – and finds her purpose – and realizes her journey had only just begun. Reminiscent of our beloved Beauty and the Beast, this gorgeous book transported me into a wintery land filled with mystery and magic. Readers will surely like the lyrical style of this story and the strength of the amazing cast of characters. This book and the following instalments are better suited for older readers!
I hope you enjoy this short selection of tween reads. If you know of any other author who writes similar tales I’d love to hear from you!!
Stay safe and keep reading