20 January, 2015

Edda: A Little Valkyrie’s First Day of School by Adam Auerbach [Claire G, Grey Lynn Library]

When the going gets tough, I don’t get going: I get picture books. Since starting work at a community library that has picture books aplenty, I’ve realised that they can be the ideal read for adults during busy or stressful times. And as I check in the stacks of picture books that kids have brought back, I’m well placed to make some reading choices of my own.

Edda: A Little Valkyrie’s First Day of School is one of the good ones – and for parents who are picture-book readers by necessity (because they read aloud to their children), it has the advantage of being all about beginning school – just the thing thousands of New Zealand four- and five-year-olds are about to do at this time of year.

For the toddlers of today, ancient Norse goddesses may be less of a drawcard than monsters. However, as a grown-up I much preferred this delightful book to Mike Austin’s Monsters Love School. The latter, though colourful and nicely designed, seemed a little didactic with its “school is cool” message.

Edda, the first book by author–illustrator Adam Auerbach, was inspired while he was listening to 
The Ring Cycle, a series of operas composed by Richard Wagner and based on Norse mythology. Fortunately, being a picture book (usual page count 32), it doesn’t take quite as long to get through as the 16 hours of the opera cycle.

Both book and character are quirky as well as short. Edda is a feisty girl who lives in “Asgard, a land full of magic and adventure”. She pines for friends her own age, and her papa knows just where to find them. School has its drawbacks, but Edda makes up for them by introducing her classmates to the magic of home.

Monster-loving children and their parents who turn the pages of this book will find that Edda caters for them too: here be dragons!

Title: Edda – A Little Valkyrie’s First Day of School
Author: Adam Auerbach
Published: 2014
Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company
ISBN: 9780805097030

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