I was given Norse Mythology for Kids by Mathias Nordvig, PhD for review. As a Heathen parent, I’m always looking for resources to share my beliefs and the stories of my Gods with my child (I’m a big believer in polytheist parents raising children in our faiths) so I was excited to get this book. That said, before I get into what I did and didn’t like, know that this book alone will not teach our children everything they need to know about being a Heathen or honoring our Gods. Any resource material we use is merely nice to have but the daily living is the main lesson.
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The Author and the Book
In this community, it behooves me, unfortunately to have to always look first at where this information is coming from. In the past, I’ve sadly recommended a book for families and children only to later learn the author has connections with racist groups. This time I was wary and I hope there will be a future where Heathens don’t have to be so cautious because piety will rule within our groups and drive out racism and its ilk. That being said…
Mathias Nordvig seems like an all around alright guy. One of the first things that cam up in my search of him was his stance on #NotYourAriel – I liked what he had to say and you should read it. I’m not sure if he is Heathen – he was a little vague about the topic of being Asatru on his bio. However he definitely has a list of credentials and says he looks at the world through the myths of the Norse Gods as a Christian might look at the world through the lens of the Bible.
(Since writing this, I’ve been told by a friend that he is Heathen but that academic professions mean that many in the field have to be vague about their beliefs because of connotations, especially in his field and location. I find this sad but understandable.)
As far as this particular book – Nordvig says on his Instagram, “Someone thought it would be a good idea to have me write a children’s book on Norse mythology (ages 7-12), so I did that.” I love seeing Norse mythology and stories becoming more popular beyond the incorrect appropriation that comic books and superhero moves have created so I am excited to dive in.
What I Liked
The book is gorgeous. Illustrator Meel Tamphanon did an amazing job bringing the Gods to life with bold lines and colors. I got this book as an ebook for review but I will be ordering a physical copy asap so that we can better appreciate these images. One of my favorites is that of Sigyn and Loki (one of the most moving and heartbreaking scenes in the myths, IMO). The page edges in different sections are also wonderfully decorated. You almost expect the pages to glow.
Frigga! I loved not only seeing Frigg depicted alone (not as another name for Freya) but Her Handmaidens listed and Their associations, Her home, and Her stories! I read them several times over with joy. She is so often overlooked, its a thrill to see Her not only given tribute but early in the book as well! As one of Her devotees, I highly approve.
Its in a language easy to share with my son. English saying like, “Curiosity killed the cat,” are used throughout. I didn’t have many issues with pronunciation when reading (that I know of – I am a country girl with a thick accent after all) and my son didn’t ask me to clarify as I read, so that’s good.
Loki isn’t the devilish villain. I am glad that Nordvig decided to depict Loki as a trickster “good and bad and everything in between” rather than a devil. This makes the book a ready resource for Heathen families that honor Rokkr like Loki as well as the other races of the Norse pantheon.
What I Would Change
Before I get into my first issue, let me state that I am not much of a lore hound so I could be wrong with my understanding of mythology. I am more than happy to be shown corrected. That being said, I wasn’t a fan of the conflation of Balder and Hother with Agnar and Geirrod. In this book, Nordvig says that Odin’s sons went fishing and that Hother kicked the boat bearing Balder out to sea and became king. Not liking Her favored son treated so, Frigga sent a message to Hother to trick Him into paranoia so that he didn’t recognize his visitor later. In the tale of Agnar and Geirrod it is Odin who visits as a wanderer. In this story by Nordvig it is Balder who blesses Nanna for helping Him. I’m not sure what Nordvig’s reason is for this – if there is lore that shifts the stories this way or if he did this to condense the tales for kids.
The book includes the story of Sigrdifa but I would have liked the inclusion of Sigdrifa’s prayer. As one of the only pieces of Norse Polytheist piety we have of the time, it is an important text that we should share with our children.
Grab Your Copy of this beautiful book of myths today!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnmluPOXod57_6M45Z-etuwYou can learn more about Norse myths, stories, vikings, and more via Mathias Nordvig’s YouTube Channel.