An unlikely hero rescues his Icelandic village in this picture-book retelling of “The Binding of Fenrir.”
Mr. Brownstone—a white, white-bearded narrator in a plaid suit—welcomes readers to his family vault, wherein lie artifacts collected over thousands of years from all corners of the globe. His “most treasured possession” is his book collection. The books contain long-forgotten stories told by Brownstone’s ancestors, and the narrator segues into the tale of a young, white Icelandic adventure seeker named Arthur. When young Arthur explores a forest in search of a magical worm species, he encounters Fenrir, a monstrous black wolf, who heads straight for his village and puts out its great fire, without which the town will freeze and its people die. Through research, exploration, and bravery, Arthur receives guidance from Thor and Odin in order to defeat and capture Fenrir and his minions. British debut storyteller Todd-Stanton’s elaborate Icelandic- and Norse-inspired depictions plunge readers into the deepest parts of the mythic story, centering a young boy rather than a god as the pivotal hero. Cool blue-greens contrast with warm orange-reds to illustrate an intricate world from another time. Clear narration and smatterings of wordless panels catapult readers into this first adventure in a new series.
With picture books seeming to hew to ever more minimalist approaches, this retelling of a Norse myth, rich with adventure and mystery in a wonderfully picturesque package, comes as an opulent treat. (Picture book. 5-9)