A fresh gathering of trollish tales and lore from a veteran storyteller and folklorist.
As in Lunge-Larsen’s The Troll with No Heart in His Body and Other Tales of Trolls from Norway, illustrated by Betsy Bowen (1999), the sources are Scandinavian and the trolls generally come out second best in each encounter. Each story highlights or incorporates a particular troll “weakness,” such as distractibility (Nils, a red-capped gnome, makes a “Narrow Escape” from two hungry trolls by announcing that he’s too dirty to eat and sending them off after soap) or vulnerability to sunlight (“The Boys Who Met Trolls in the Woods” steal the monsters’ single eyeball and walk off with buckets of treasure after tossing the eye up to catch a sunbeam). The author freely incorporates original and folkloric elements into the tales, relating them in a simple, forthright way that makes them as easy to tell aloud as to read. She closes with a clever suggestion that the remains of trolls can be seen in many mountains and rocky islands, if looked at in just the right way. Craggy, mossy, blunt-featured hulks reminiscent of Arthur Rackham’s confront much smaller, light-skinned young folk in Vick’s watercolor-style illustrations, adding both drama and a “Golden Age” flavor to the proceedings.
It’s not hard to sympathize with the trolls—once one gets past their personal habits and dietary preferences, anyway. (source notes) (Folk tales. 8-11)