cover image The Littlest Viking

The Littlest Viking

Alexandra Penfold, illus. by Isabel Roxas. Knopf, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-55429-2

A young Viking with a knack for storytelling steps into new roles when he gains a baby sister. “What’s this? A fair maiden?” asks Penfold (We Are Brothers, We Are Friends). “No, a warrior princess!” Roxas (Let Me Finish!) shows the scruffy infant glaring cockeyed from underneath a blanket—before she lets loose with a giant wail. (Scrawled in spiky, capitalized letters, the baby’s cries of “WAAAH!” scream across the pages, evoking both Scandinavian runes and sonic daggers.) When nothing else works, older brother Sven seizes on his love of stories to lull the baby to sleep with a tale of “fantastic voyages and epic feasts and all the adventures they would have.” Penfold folds in fun ancient analogues to tried-and-true methods of appeasing cranky little ones (“She was not amused by shiny plunder. A ride on the great ship did not soothe her”), and Roxas’s liberal use of a color perhaps best described as neon snot brings a punk edge to her scenes of Viking family life. Irreverent yet tender. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Susan Ginsburg, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Jan.) [/em]