cover image YO, VIKINGS!


Judith Byron Schachner, . . Dutton, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46889-9

Expressive and bursting with life, Schachner's (Mr. Emerson's Cook) artwork sweeps readers into a story based, surprisingly, on a real incident involving her daughter. Emma has an imagination that won't quit, and when she has to prepare a report about Viking explorer Erik the Red, she's off and running on a voyage of discovery: "Emma spent every day after school at the library plundering the shelves for more Viking books." The more she learns, the more seeps into her journal and her everyday life—she makes a Viking helmet from tinfoil, hands her brother a painted stone ("It's a rune," she informs him) and renames herself Emma the Red. After the librarian shows her a newspaper ad for a 29-foot Viking ship ($7000 or best offer), Emma and her brother write to the owner proposing to pay $128, two baseball cards and a fox tooth. No one believes her when she announces she's getting a Viking ship for her birthday ("Emma makes everything up," scoffs one classmate), but in fact it's exactly what happens, and the Viking ship arrives in her backyard along with a TV news crew and all of Emma's classmates dressed as Vikings. "See, Ollie," Emma tells her brother. "Dreams do come true." Schachner artfully crowds the slightly oversize pages with detail. Warmly realistic family scenes coexist with Emma's energetic fantasies, the latter delineated as colorful, vibrant images emerging from books and journals. This buoyant book will likely launch readers on adventures of their own. Ages 5-9. (June)