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Odd and the Frost Giants

A children's fantasy book by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Brian Helquist.

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An inventive, modern re-telling of a very old and enduring theme

  • Nov 19, 2010
Twelve year old Odd, a young lad living in a Norwegian village, hasn't had it easy at all. After his father's untimely death in a Viking raid, his mother married a man that Odd despised. Having badly injured his leg in an accident cutting down a tree, Odd was unable to fit into the community. His cruel neighbours constantly bullied him and abused him with their laughter at his weakness. Gaiman obviously intended the name "Odd" to serve as a metaphor for the struggles he faced and the growth of his unwillingness to live any longer in a place that didn't accept him for who he was.

As a bitterly cold winter tenaciously refused to let go of its hold on the land, Odd gathered some food and ran away to his father's cabin in the woods to live by himself. You can imagine Odd's surprise when he encounters three talking animals - a fox, a bear and an eagle - surprise that turns into a blend of astonishment and fear when learns that the animals are, in fact, gods. Thor, Odin and Loki, defeated by their nemesis, the Frost Giants, were tricked into assuming these animal forms and banished from Asgard, the traditional home of the Norse gods. In a wonderfully endearing and very modern twist on the David vs Goliath theme, Odd enters Asgard to help the gods win back their ancestral home, outwit the Frost Giants and, in the bargain, release winter's deadly grip on his home village.

ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS is an inventive, thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining allegory that an adult can comfortably read in the company of even the youngest beginning readers in the family or enjoy on their own as a short, enjoyable fantasy. A charming and yet comfortingly realistic ending will put a smile on every reader's face.

Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss

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More Odd and the Frost Giants reviews
Quick Tip by . April 08, 2011
posted in The Family Room
A charming and simple novel about a young viking lad named Odd who goes on a quest to return three animals (a fox, a bear, and an eagle) to their true forms as Norse gods (Loki, Thor, and Odin). The story is a bit short and predictable, which isn't what I was hoping for from someone like Neil Gaiman, but it is well told for what it is. This would probably appeal most to the 8-12 year old crowd and most likely to boys. I think it could have benefited from more characterization and back story …
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Paul Weiss ()
Ranked #7
   A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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Grade 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, ILEND
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ISBN-10: 0061671738
Author: Neil Gaiman, Brian Helquist
Genre: Children's Books, Juvenile Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date Published: March 3, 2008
Format: Short novel
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