Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Norse Picture Book Nightmare

Friends, it has come to my attention that there are very few picture books for children relating to Norse Mythology. The ones that do exist seem to misrepresent Thor as a son of Frigg (GASP!). Now, I know absolutely nothing about what it takes to write a picture book, but guys, how the heck am I going to indoctrinate the children of my acquaintance if I cannot get my hands on a picture book that keeps its facts straight?!

Now, I can't exactly blame these authors for having a little bit of trouble with the whole mess of which woman/giantess/goddess fathered which son of Odin, but it seems to me the easiest solution would be to just not mention the mothers involved at the picture book level. Thor, son of Odin. Period! I mean if I'm going to buy a picture book with misinformed parentage, I might as well go shopping at Marvel for some Super Hero Squad, and then at least it has the excuse of not being The Real Thor.

Heimdal and his Nine Mothers
Baby Heimdal and his Nine Mothers

Friends of the blog, what am I to do? And how would you solve the problem of dubious parentage as the result of affairs in a children's picture book? I'm curious if this is a result of some kind of "we must save the kids from immorality" ideal, but the same series of books had Heimdal as the son of nine women and Odin, so I'm feeling like there are some mixed messages there. Is it okay to be the bastard son of Odin if you are conceived by orgy, but not if you are the result of some common affair with a giantess? Are kids aged 2-5 really paying attention to who was born out of wedlock and who wasn't?

What say you?


  1. Hey! Long-time reader, first-time commenter.

    Funny this should come up now: the library I volunteer at currently has a small display up on "Fairy Tales and Folklore". It has plenty of European tales, like Rumpelstiltskin, as well as some African folklore (yay, Anansi!) and at least one book on Australian Aboriginal folk tales. Now that you mention it, though, there was nothing I saw that was identifiably Norse. I don't know if there's anything that would fit, but I have to wonder...

    Also, re: your picture book idea: I don't think the kids will care all that much about the parentage. There are plenty of books that have only one parent involved. (Don't take my ideas as gospel truth, though; I'm far from an expert.)

  2. Thanks for your comment, Yuri!

    I remember I had a great picture book about Anansi when I was a kid, and there was definitely no dearth of fairy tales or folk tales either. I don't remember having any picture books about mythology at all, now that I'm thinking about it. I'm trying to remember when I first started reading about the Greco-Roman myths, even, and all I can think of is maybe watching Clash of the Titans on television. But I must have read/heard/seen something somewhere else before that! I have a very distinct memory of reading Bullfinch's on my brother's bed in middle school, but by then I was already familiar with the mythology. So strange to think that I never had any picture books about myths at all...

  3. D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths is a well regarded book of Norse Mythology for kids.

  4. Obviously the solution is to write a factually accurate children's book about the Norse gods. You could do a series! As for dubious parentage, I think the solution might be something like (some names changed to protect the innocent*):

    Odin had always told Thor that Thor's mother was Sally. But now Thor wasn't sure. Loki had sounded so certain when he said Thor's mom was really Kimberly—but Thor also knew that sometimes Loki lied to people.

    That could be the "plot" of the book, Thor finding out who his parents really are. Surely we need a book or two for bastard children, like we need books like "Heather Has Two Mommies"?

    The more I think of it, the more I think this has potential…

    * Me, as I don't remember lineages offhand

  5. Playing by the book: It's a little bit old for 2-5 year olds. What I really want is a solid picture book, and also a little bit more choice than just ONE book on Norse myths for kids :)

    HA! Are you my Mommy, Thor Style, with Bonus Loki Hijinks!

    I'm honestly half-tempted to write something myself except I don't know the first thing about writing picture books :)


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