A TROLL IN PASSING by Stephen Krensky


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After a few years of toying aimlessly, if gracefully, with fairy-tale conventions, Krensky gets it together in this well-knit story of a troll named Morgan. Deep inside a mountain lives a whole troll community, whose society Krensky documents in solid but smoothly integrated detail from the rules of their games to the tools of their trades--the latter being mining, blacksmithing, foraging (that is, snatching treasures from their human neighbors), and of course toll-collecting. None of the four really appeals to restless Morgan, an anomaly among the stolid trolls who customarily settle into an apprenticeship and plug on in the trade for life. But Morgan alone is suspicious of the giant troll Simon, who stays so long as an idle but watchful visitor with his smaller cousins; and when Morgan comes unharmed through an accidental scrape with the dreaded mistletoe, he begins to doubt not only the universal belief in its deadly powers but also the stronger troll fear of being turned to stone by the sun. All these strands come together when Simon returns with his giant band, determined 'to take over the mountain and make slaves of its present inhabitants. Forearmed by knowledge that mistletoe makes giant trolls sneeze (the origin perhaps of the superstition), Morgan alone is able to save his stout but overwhelmed comrades from the invaders. The giants routed, he is now ready to take on the sun and see the world. Krensky's telling is as smooth and his set designs as knowledgeable as ever, but here he foregoes clever frivolity (or, as with a troll's version of the three billygoats' experience, works it neatly into a strategic story-telling spot) for the more serious business of testing convention and finding one's own independent way.

Pub Date: March 13th, 1980
Publisher: Atheneum