cover image The Troll with No Heart in His Body

The Troll with No Heart in His Body

Peter Christen Asbjornsen, Lise Lunge-Larsen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $18 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-395-91371-0

Norwegian-born storyteller Lunge-Larsen scoured her homeland's literary landscape for this stellar collection of nine troll tales, many of which will be unfamiliar to American children. Ugly, greedy, fierce and dimwitted, trolls provide admirable subject matter, and Lunge-Larsen spins her stories with enthusiasm. The other characters are memorable, too, from the feckless Butterball, a boy who outwits his captor (a hungry troll hag who carries her head under her arm) to the familiar trio of goats in ""The Three Billy Goats Gruff."" A Nordic flavor permeates the customary folktale elements present here (such as kidnapped princesses and magical quests) and each tale ends with the Norwegian refrain ""Snipp, snapp, snute/ Her er eventyret ute! (Snip, snap, snout/ This tale's told out!)."" Short introductions and afterwords for every entry expand on troll lore. Readers learn, for example, that trolls will burst and turn into stone when exposed to sunlight, and that Edvard Grieg's famous ""In the Hall of the Mountain King"" for Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt refers to the trolls of Norway's Dovre Mountains. Bowen (Antler, Bear, Canoe) fills the slightly narrow pages of this oversize volume with striking woodblock-print compositions and border motifs; according to an illustrator's note, her work draws on ancient carvings as well as early-20th-century art from Norway. Their rough-hewn, almost primitive quality belies the sophisticated use of color and line. A noteworthy addition to the folktale shelf. Ages 5-12. (Sept.)