About the Holiday
Myths and legends have been part of human history since the beginning of time. Created to explain natural phenomena, to entertain, or to inspire, myths have been passed down from every culture and now reside in our collective consciousness. Today’s holiday celebrates these stories and their long history. To take part, read about your favorite legends or discover new ones. Today’s book is a great place to start!
T is for Thor: A Norse Mythology Alphabet
Written by Virginia Loh-Hagan | Illustrated by Torstein Nordstrand
From stories to poetry, movies to art to video games, Norse mythology captures the imaginations of kids and adults. Knowing Norse legends, the world, the characters, and the conflicts is not only exciting, but can inform and deepen your understanding of allusions found throughout literature and other arts. In T is for Thor the twenty-six letters of the alphabet serve as a portal to this mystical world and its inhabitants. From Asgard—“filled with fields of green and castles of gold, / Asgard was home to the strong and the bold.”—to Zest—“Two humans named Life and Life’s Zest / hid in the world tree, safe from the rest.”—readers gain and in-depth knowledge of and appreciation for the beings, gods, giants, creatures, humans, landmarks, weapons, and events that make up these fascinating tales.
Here, children and adults learn how and why Odin created dwarfs and about their magical crafts, including a “sword named Tyrfing” that could “fight by itself and its aim was always accurate” and a gold ring which produced eight more rings every ninth day, “making its owner very rich.” The secret to the Norse gods’ and goddesses’ immortality did not lie in themselves but in Idunn’s apples. You can read about her harrowing kidnapping, the aging of the gods and goddesses, and how Loki rescued her at I.
M is for Mistletoe, and readers may be surprised to find that in Loki’s hand this “kissing” plant had much dire consequences for Balder, the god of light and sunshine, and the world. At N are the Norns—three Nordic seers who practiced sorcery. In addition to caring for Yggdrasil—the world tree—the Norns “weaved people’s fates into a web. Each person’s life was a string in their loom and the length of the string was the length of a person’s life.”
Ragnarok is found at R, where readers learn how Balder’s death set the long-foretold war between gods and giants in motion. At S children discover the role the fire giant Surtr played in the battle, and at T they can read about Thor, who “of all the Norse gods, …is the most known; / nothing can stop him once his hammer is thrown.” Kids learn more about the end battle and the rebirth of the world as the alphabet plays out.
T is for Thor opens with an extensive glossary and pronunciation guide, which will help readers smoothly navigate the text. Back matter includes connections Norse mythology has to the names of our days, Christmas traditions, outer space, and even football. A note from the author explains how Norse mythology grew out of a desire to explain scientific phenomena, inspire the Vikings, and the role of oral storytelling in how these myths became known.
The intricate relationships and interwoven storylines of Norse mythology are clearly explained and connected in Virginia Loh-Hagan’s detailed paragraphs that are just the right length to spark an ongoing interest in these legends for kids and adults, who may not be familiar with the stories. Her rhyming verses that accompany each letter succinctly define each letter’s keyword and are engaging introductions to the longer text. Loh-Hagan’s conversational and riveting storytelling will keep. Kids enthralled from A to Z.
Torstein Nordstrand’s majestic paintings of mystical worlds and golden halls, powerful gods and goddesses, and imposing giants are each showstoppers that will mesmerize readers. Mist and fire provide backdrops to the dramatic scenes where the lives of these mythical beings clashed with swords and spears or turned on a whim or through trickery. Ethereal and gripping, each illustration holds intriguing details readers won’t want to miss.
T is for Thor would be a superb book for any fan of mythology and a valuable resource for English and literature classes for all ages. The book is a must for school and public libraries and would be a favorite on home bookshelves to dip into again and again.
Ages 7 – 10 and up
Sleeping Bear Press, 2020 | ISBN 978-1534110502
To view a portfolio of work by Torstein Nordstrand visit his website.
Myths and Legends Day Activity
Norse Mythology Word Search Puzzle
Can you find the twenty-one words associated with Norse mythology in this printable puzzle?
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