Wagner’s operas inspired this Valkyrie-themed look at the first day of school.
Choosing to define Valkyrie as “an ancient Norse goddess who guides and protects heroes” (rather than the more common life-or-death decision-maker for warriors), Auerbach’s choice of protagonist is an unusual one that may simply go over the heads of young readers, though they will certainly empathize with her. Off to school to meet kids her own age, Edda is not sure Earth compares favorably to her life back in Asgard. At home, Edda can do as she pleases, whereas at school, she will get a timeout if she doesn’t follow the rules. No one wants to share or trade lunches with Edda, who has brought a flagon of…something and a huge hunk of meat still on the bone, and she misses the amazing wildlife of Asgard—Rex the classroom guinea pig is no substitute. But things begin to look up when Edda uses a difficult writing assignment to describe Asgard for her classmates, who suddenly want to know more about Edda and where she lives. Auerbach’s pen-and-ink illustrations were colored digitally, giving them a flat, matte aspect. The two worlds are just as incongruous as adult readers might imagine.
While this will introduce readers to aspects of Norse mythology, there’s not enough detail to satisfy; the questions this will raise far outweigh any comfort those new to school may gain from it. (Picture book. 4-8)