Good fun. "The Wolves in the Walls" was my favorite; and if ever there was a story that's meant to be read aloud, it's this one, with its "sneaking, cGood fun. "The Wolves in the Walls" was my favorite; and if ever there was a story that's meant to be read aloud, it's this one, with its "sneaking, creeping, crumpling noises". I'd read this story to a 5-year-old to keep nightmares away. You can tell that it was written by a parent, as it addresses childhood fears (if the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over!) and then subverts and banishes them in a beautifully funny and unexpected way. I'd love to see the illustrations, too.
The other stories in the collection are a delight as well, of course, if less perfect than the first. "Crazy Hair" is a cute poem with fun rhymes, and the voice of the character in "The day I swapped my Dad for two goldfish" is wonderful, hilariously matter-of-fact. I also found it amusing the way Dad is so absorbed in his newspaper he doesn't notice being swapped from kid to kid across town, and doesn't even blink at finding himself in a rabbit hutch munching a carrot.
"Cinnamon," an unpublished story which I believe is only found in this collection, was--though beautiful--more enigmatic than the others. It feels like there's something vaguely disturbing going on under the surface, something in the tiger I don't want to look at too closely. Not enough to make me concerned about kids reading it (there's much more disturbing content in Grimm), just enough to make me... wonder.
Gaiman's delightful interview with his young daughter at the end was an unexpected treasure. Getting this little glimpse into how "Scary-trousers Gaiman" functions as a daddy is fascinating. "What do you mean you'll 'talk to me later'? You're my daughter." "Well, that's the only thing I could think of, so shush."...more
I'm becoming addicted to Neil Gaiman's audiobooks. This was a short, simple, fun little story--by far the youngest target audience of Gaiman's books tI'm becoming addicted to Neil Gaiman's audiobooks. This was a short, simple, fun little story--by far the youngest target audience of Gaiman's books that I've seen yet.
I adored the character of Odd, with his infuriating composure in the face of intimidation, his cool logic, his smile. He is such a refreshing change from the typical fantasy hero who goes all naive and goggle-eyed when confronted with marvels--Odd just takes magic, giants, and ancient gods in his stride and never bats an eye. In fact, he is decidedly more collected than said giants and gods; while all these mighty supernatural beings stand around and complain and blame each other for the mess they've made, it is this pert little Viking reject who saunters in and sorts everything out for them. It's brilliantly subversive.
I won't spoil, because it's such a beautifully unexpected solution, but the way Odd finally defeats the giant and saves the castle is quite possibly the best resolution to a story of this sort I've ever seen--both subverting and paying homage to the archetypal Jack-the-Giant-Slayer tale that this book draws inspiration from. The characterization of the bear, fox, and eagle (who I won't name because it's a pretty major plot spoiler, though fairly obvious if you know any norse mythology at all) is great fun, with some beautiful banter. The fox, of course, is my favorite--as that character always is, whatever story he shows up in--but the bear is beautifully done as well, and the eagle's half-mad silence properly intimidating.
I'd like to see a print copy, to see the illustrations, but it's a great one to listen to or to read aloud....more
I've been scouring the town for good children's books with which to introduce my kid sisters to the Arthurian legends, and having little success untilI've been scouring the town for good children's books with which to introduce my kid sisters to the Arthurian legends, and having little success until I stumbled upon this gem in a discard bin. The story is skillfully told so as to be thrilling and engaging for the kids, instead of bogging down among ponderous backstory or lists of names, yet with a true devotee's faithfulness to the heart of the legend that is richly satisfying for an Arthur buff such as myself. All that, coupled with vivid, mesmerizing dream-scape illustrations, and this makes for one heck of a good stormy-night bedtime read... Oh, and my sisters liked it too....more