Odd and the Frost Giants

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Brett Helquist.

Odd’s father died on a Viking ship, leaving Odd and his mother behind.  A few weeks later, Odd tried to chop down a tree with his father’s axe and ended up shattering his leg.  Now he still walks with a limp and is teased and mocked at home.  Tempers are rising in the village because spring should have come but winter continues its hold on the land.  Odd heads off to his father’s hunting lodge to escape the increasing teasing.  There he meets three animals: an enormous bear, a fox and an eagle.  The three turn out to be Norse gods who are trapped in animal form and banished from Asgard which has been invaded by Frost Giants.  Can one limping boy and three animals get back into the land of Asgard, bring peace and return spring to the land?

Neil Gaiman has written a small jewel of a book about an unexpected hero.  It is a focused story told in a voice that is meant to be shared aloud.  Odd is a pleasing character.  A smart boy with a sad past who is braver and stronger than anyone knew.   Gaiman’s language here is plain and simple, the story short and fast-moving.  Yet at the same time this is not a shallow piece.  It has heart and plenty of depth.  The occasional illustrations by Brett Helquist add to its friendliness for young readers and offer tantalizing glimpses of Odd’s world.

Any teacher doing a unit on mythology should add this book to your list.  It will also be useful with reluctant readers who will enjoy the direct story and the fast pacing.  Appropriate for ages 8-11, younger for reading aloud.  This is a perfect book for cold winter nights.

Reviewed from library copy.

Reviewed by Tor, Charlotte’s Library, Eva’s Book Addiction, and Chasing Ray.

3 thoughts on “Odd and the Frost Giants

  1. I just finished “Odd” this week and didn’t find it as excellent as you did. Since it was a novel and not a myth, I wanted more character development. Having someone else fix Odd and having him grow taller did not feel like true growth to me. And the smile that Odds wore didn’t make sense to me. He didn’t seem to own it, yet it was key to his success.

    The premise is compelling and the writing is lovely, but I get the sneaking suspicion that this is yet another case of editors being afraid to edit an award winning author.


  2. Interesting. I started reading it comparing it to Coraline and Graveyard, but realized a few chapters in that this wasn’t that sort of book. I started over again and focused on reading it aloud in my head and it really worked for me. It is a more oral book than most of his, more simple, and I found it charming.

    I’m always eager to hear different opinions about books. Sorry that you didn’t like it as well.


  3. I read this a little while ago, I think it was first out as part of World Book Day a while ago. I loved it, by I love everything Gaiman does. I like the length of this book, so short and sweet!


Comments are closed.