Saturday, June 25, 2011

For young readers: Books about Vikings

book reviews

The mighty warriors who explored the world centuries ago, Vikings are one of histories most well known conquers. Much has been written about these Nordic explorers as their lifestyle remains a fascinating topic even a thousand years after they first established their presence and hundreds of years after the end of their era. Various books for young readers shed light on the lives of these Scandinavian “sea raiders”, helping children learn about these historic adventurers.

Authors: Carrie Love and Lorrie Mack
Illustrator: Andy Cooke
A tome that helps readers discover the world of Vikings, this book explains how the Vikings were skilled sailors, fighters, and craftspeople, and talks about their actions and culture, detailing everything from their lives as warriors to their recreational activities; you can find out about their warships with ferocious figureheads, how they raided and looted settlements, the weapons they used in their brutal warfare, what their houses and forts were like, how they dressed, made meals, and told stories, what kinds of crafts they built, and their legends and beliefs. Part of the DK Eye Wonder series of books, Viking encompasses the basis topics that showcase the life and times of these ancient Scandinavians, presents them in a simple and clear way, and uses descriptive photographs of reconstructions and reenactments to bring the Viking world to life; also included is a glossary of “words that are useful to know when you’re learning about Vikings”. Overall, this book is a very good introduction to Vikings for young readers who want to learn the basics about these ancient people.

Eric the Red
Author: Neil Grant 
Illustrator: Victor Ambrus
Based on the story of the Viking adventurer Eric the Red, this volume tells the tale of the warrior who, upon exile from Iceland, set out to find a new country and thus ended up discovering Greenland; his son Leif (the Lucky) would later sail to North America, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus did. The children’s book, which is part of the What’s Their Story? series, presents a good, albeit brief, overview of the life of the Viking who is remembered in medieval Icelandic sagas for his escapades. Eric the Red uses simple language and presents a straightforward narrative that captures the gist of the famous explorer and the Viking way of life in general, and makes for an interesting read about the life of a historical Viking figure.

Viking Tales
Author: Jennie Hall
Illustrator: Victor R. Lambdin
Originally told as songs called “sagas” before being written down and preserved for future generations, the stories in Viking Tales help readers develop a better understanding of this ancient culture, as they illustrate the Viking values, beliefs, and traditions. The book begins with the birth of a boy named Harald, and recounts episodes from his life as he goes on to become the king of all Norway, and details his adventures and victories. The tales serve as a doorway into the Viking lifestyle, although the narrative is somewhat plain so it might not sustain the attention of kids who aren’t into this topic; young readers who have gone through the basic facts about Viking and have developed an interest in this subject, however, are more likely to find these stories fascinating.

- By Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 25th June, 2011

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