Tuesday, March 4, 2008


by Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
Doubleday & Co., 1932

OK. I have an immense fondness for these two as storytellers and artists. Their books are not just enjoyable and pretty to look at, but they are special in the best sense of the word. Whenever I pick one up, I have that overwhelming feeling of holding something dear in my hands... something that should be treasured. The illustrations are magical and lush and wonderful, with deep, rich colors that truly transport the reader to another time and place. With Ola, that place is Norway.

I am gonna use the term EPIC here, because that is exactly what this story is. Like Virgil's Ulysses or the journey for the four siblings in Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Ingri and Edgar take us traveling with Ola on an amazing adventure in the span of only 50 pages.

The fisherman told Ola that strange people live in small houses at the bottom of the sea, and they have lots of goats grazing on their grass roofs. But these goats are very greedy for the tidbits of the fishing hooks, and to their owners' horror the goats get drawn right up and change into codfish. The fisherman showed Ola bits of goats' beards on the chins of the codfish.

Ola awakens one morning in search of adventure, and when he climbs from his bed and out into the forest he sees a frozen world where animals frolic, girls dance, wedding feasts get interrupted by dragons, peddlers meet Lapps and reindeer, and spirits lurk under the water controlling the weather. My favorite part is when he and a small girl meet on an island and collect eiderdown and watch "millions of cormorants, gulls, sea-parrots, and auks" swarming the mount. Just breathtaking.

Also by:
D'Aulaire's Book of Animals
D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths
The Terrible Troll-Bird
Benjamin Franklin
Don't Count Your Chicks

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