cover image Louhi, Witch of North Farm

Louhi, Witch of North Farm

Toni Degerez. Viking Children's Books, $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-670-80556-3

In this retelling of a story from the Kalevala (an epic poem), Louhi the Witch, who likes to make mischief, turns into an eagle and steals the sun and the moon out of the sky. She locks them up behind the nine iron doors of her storeroom, and the world is plunged into darkness. Vainamoinen, the Great Singer, the Great Knower, whose singing had caused the moon and the sun to come out, goes to see Louhi, but she frightens him away. Vainamoinen asks Seppo, the smith, to make a new sun and moon, but Seppo's efforts fail. Angrily, the smith forges an iron collar and nine ""terrible'' iron chains. Louhi, disguised as a hawk, hears of the chains, and hurries to release the sun and the moon. De Gerez's version of this is weak compared to the original, in which Louhi is not a witch on a farm but a female ruler of Pohjola, a powerful land in the north. But Cooney's pictures are splendidly detailed, and the spread of the dark world, in stark white on black, is a special shock after the previous abundance of color. (3-8)