cover image Kentucky Troll

Kentucky Troll

Juanita Havill. Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, $13 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10457-3

This diverting and unusual tale stars, of all things, a Swedish troll who journeys to frontier America. Endeavoring to make a life among the folks in his new Kentucky home, Young Troll disguises himself as a man, acquires material goods and pines for a wife. Narrated in a droll and gentle style that falls pleasantly on the ear, Havill's ( Jamaica's Find ) somewhat lengthy saga possesses many of the ingredients of a homespun folktale: the pretty country lass who catches Young Troll's eye, the magic powder that allows the hero to churn unsurpassed butter, the townsfolk who mass in search of the troll after his magic goes awry. These discrete elements, however, never build to a satisfying climax--instead, the thwarted protagonist simply withdraws from society, concluding that people and trolls were never intended to mix. Dodson's ( Supergrandpa ) illustrations portray a suitably ugly--and occasionally oddly appealing--title character, but ultimately, apart from a certain cuteness, lack a distinguishing style. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)