So I’d forgotten that Caiti lent me this wonderful little book she’d gotten from Joe for Christmas – a short Neil Gaiman children’s story illustrated by Brett Helquist (the guy who did A Series of Unfortunate Events). I’d forgotten about it until Caiti reminded me that she wanted it back… so, feeling despondent after finishing the bad Netherland, I figured “what the hell” and as I was getting ready to go over and watch the Tennant/RSC Hamlet film with the girls, I read the book. I literally finished it as I was walking into Caiti’s building – all told, probably took me about 35 minutes.
It was a fun little read – as I told Caiti, it was a nice palate cleanser. I’m a big fan of Gaiman, having really gotten into him last year with Neverwhere and then Good Omens, written with my favorite comedic writer Terry Pratchett. Anybody who can put together a book with Pratchett and not pull down his level of awesome deserves attention and London would have been a different experience for me if I hadn’t read Neverwhere. Gaiman has a very natural, flowing, easy tone – Coraline, ostensibly a story for children, reads just as easily for adults and is (to some, including myself) just as pants-pissingly terrifying. Odd and the Frost Giants is definitely a children’s book, even more so than Coraline, but it still has its moments. There’s talk of the Viking men and women and how they interact that winks at adult life, perhaps for the parent reading this to their kids at bed time. There was also a moment that made me laugh out loud for a good fifteen seconds – a little dialogue between Odd and the Frost Giant where the Frost Giant basically says something like “its hot and dry here and the natives all hate me…” and Odd says “well, why don’t you just leave?”
Ahem. Anyway. The story includes the three great Norse gods: Odin, Loki, and Thor. I’d forgotten about my Norse mythology but this book was a nice little refresher and I enjoyed seeing them reduced to the way I used to read about them as a child. There wasn’t much to the book, plot-wise – its all pretty straightforward in the classic “adventure AND finding oneself” mold. Still, it brought a smile to my face and more important it just goes to show that even children’s books can end up being more enjoyable, enlightening, entertaining, and other e-words than critically acclaimed New York Times bestsellers. I’ll take Neil Gaiman, even writing for children, over another Netherland any frakking day.