xoxoxoe’s #CBR5 Review #14: D’Aulaire’s Norse Gods & Giants

I grew up with D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Mythsa wonderful book full of fabulous interpretations of the wild lives of the gods, complete with illustrations by the talented husband and wife children’s book team, Ingri and Parin D’Aulaire. I spent hours reading and re-reading these stories, trying to draw Aphrodite, Dionysus and the other gods and goddesses that the D’Aulaires portrayed in their distinctive lithographs.

I remember seeing their book on the Norse Gods when I was a kid. I must have taken it out of the library, but I frankly don’t remember it at all. When I was with the kid at the library the other day and saw D’Aulaire’s Norse Gods & Giants (reprinted recently as D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths) again I grabbed it, figuring it would be like my favorite Greek myth book. Well, sorta. The illustrations are as wonderful as one would expect. But the stories — they are so very, very different from the Greek myths. The Norse pantheon, although it shares a superficial resemblance to the Greeks, with creation stories and Odin as the head of the gods, is full of very distinct and different personalities from Zeus and his brother and sister gods and goddesses.

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Battling a frost giant

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Ygdrassil

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Loki plans his next trick

The D’Aulaires seem to be having a great time telling stories about the world of the Norse gods, including the world tree, Ygdrassil, Valhalla, and the gods’ ultimate destiny, Ragnarokk. Fans of comic books and recent superhero moves will recognize some of the main players — Odin the all father, hammer-wielding Thor, the god of thunder, and the shape shifting trickster, Loki, as well as the lovely Freya and the Valkyrie. The D’Aulaires’ books are geared towards children, but their retelling of these classic stories are dense and layered and could be equally enjoyed by adults. I’m glad I got a chance to find this book again.

You can read more of my pop culture reviews on my blog, xoxoxo e

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xoxoxoe’s #CBR5 Review #10: Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hat, by Caroline H. Smith

Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hat is a gorgeous coffee-table book featuring the “secret artwork” of Dr. Seuss. Theodor (Ted) Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss, called a lot of the work featured in this volume his “midnight paintings.”

The book lays out an informative and frequently humorous biography, tracing his college years at Dartmouth, early days in advertising, his work as an animator for the U.S. Army during WW2, as well as his adventures in publishing. The Cat Behind the Hatalso includes lots of quotes from Dr. Seuss’s books, as well as original sketches and artwork from favorites like The Sneetches, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hatches the Egg, Green Eggs and Ham, and many more. But the book’s main attraction are the numerous fabulous illustrations, in both black and white and in exuberant color.

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An original sketch for The Cat in the Hat

“I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.” — The Cat in the Hat

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Dr. Seuss liked to create 3D versions of his drawings, too – “Flaming Herring”
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“The Manly Art of Self Defense”

“Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.” — The Sneetches

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Detail of “Boy Being Mesmerized by an Ichabod”

The Cat Behind the Hat was originally published in conjunction with the a series of traveling art exhibitions, The Art of Dr. Seuss. These exhibitions are happily ongoing —check the schedule to see when the show will be in a town near you.

You can read more of my pop culture reviews on my blog, xoxoxo e

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Popcultureboy’s #CBR5 Review #17: Just Henry by Michelle Magorian

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No, I’m not reading at the speed of light. I initially disqualified this from CBR5, as I started it in 2012, finishing it on Jan 2nd. I knew I’d hit 52 books in a year easily so I decided to only include books that I started in 2013. Well, now I’m double Cannonballing, every little helps! So I’m putting this charming novel I’m far too old for in. Read the full review here