Into Reading - Tales from the Norse's Mouth

Into Reading – Tales from the Norse’s Mouth

I am starting a new series on my Blog about the various books throughout my life that have started or reinforced my love of reading. I wanted to revisit the various books on my ‘reading journey’, discuss my memories of them, why I think they spoke to me at that specific time of my life and then re-read them and give you my thoughts. Its basically an excuse to get a bit nostalgic and read some old favourites.

My Reading Journey

Like most reading started with my parents reading me bedtime stories. I was very lucky to have parents that valued stories and would set aside time to read to us. My mum would read my sister and I books from all different authors such as Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Dick King Smith’s Sheep Pig. My Dad prefers the classics and would tell his own versions of 1001 Arabian nights and Homer’s Odyssey acting scenes out with our playmobile figures. So a love of reading was inevitable.

Like most however school put me off of reading, I was chastised for reading ahead or not reading the “right books” so my reading slowed. I found that my love of reading would reappear periodically and I would dive into books and series with great fervour only for it to be quashed later on usually due to school enforced reading. This occurs time and time again. I have these groups of memories of particular books and then a dry spell. Between school and undergrad, my undergrad and my Masters, my Masters and my PhD, I had periods where I stopped reading for fun and focused on school. Therefore, I have a whole collection of books that rekindled my love of reading at each of those stages. It is this that has lead to this series where I am going back to the various memories and picking those books back up to show them some appreciation for keeping me reading. I don’t plan on reading them in any particular order just picking up a book where I feel drawn towards reading and then writing about it.

The Book

Title: Tales from the Norse’s Mouth
(Now re-written and rebranded – The Littlest Viking)

Author: Sandi Toksvig

From Goodreads:

From The Littlest Viking:

When Amber, the littlest Viking, set out from Scandinavia to seek her fortune she must have got lost on her way! Now she’s in Pegwell Bay with no one but her pet squirrel for company. When Katie, Gary and Joshua find her stranded on the beach, they decide to look after her. Now there’s a Viking living in their garden!

Having a Viking in the family isn’t always easy. But when the garden is threatened by a nasty neighbour, Amber has some unusual – and hilarious – solutions to their problems . . .

My Memories

I still have my original copy of the BBC Children’s Books version of Tales from the Norse’s Mouth, it is a bit tattered and weather worn having sat for almost 30 years on various shelves at both my parents and in my own home. Originally written for Jackanory it was published in book form in 1994 when I was 6 going on 7.

I don’t remember ever seeing the Jackanory version, or quite how I came to read it, but I do remember it being one of the first books I read cover to cover myself. I also remember that at the time I knew Sandi Toksvig from the Tele. I had quite liberal parents that would let us watch the various comedy panel/quiz shows knowing full well we just didn’t understand 90% of the jokes.

My pervading memory of Tales from the Norse’s Mouth is I loved how funny it was. I also must have been studying The Vikings at school when I read it as I strongly associate it with my memories of visiting Vikingar! in Largs (A wholly strange place that happens to be both museum of Viking influence in West Scotland but also a modern leisure centre! I think every 1990s kid from the Greater Glasgow area will associate the smell of chlorine with looking at fragments of Viking jewellery, while a local actor pretends to be Viking)

My Thoughts now …

Its amazing how much comes flooding back to you about the characters and plot even when its been almost well over 20 years since you last picked up the book. The opening scene of the Viking ship displayed proudly on the cold wintery sea front of Pegwell Bay is so well cemented in my memory. From the outset it has such a fun sense of humour that I still enjoy to this day. The witty, droll quips about the local council and various ‘adult’ mundanity such as the gas board and Residents Association that I doubt I fully understood as a 7 year old but now can chuckle at. Its really evident that my sense of humour was really influenced by authors like Toksvig and as I went on to build a love for Douglas Adams and Sue Townsend’s The Queen and I, they have fostered my love of satirical wit and social commentary.

The one thing that stood out more now when reading than it does in my memories of the book is just how much Norse mythology is in this book. We learn so much about the Vikings but in a really subtle way, from their cultural practices to various mythology and folklore. Now that I myself know more about all the stories briefly hinted at in this story there is just so much more layers to it. I also had completely forgot about Ratastok , Amber’s sassy Squirrel companion. I do love a good sassy animal companion and it was fun to see Amber with her own, and the fact he too was from Norse mythology (Ratastokr is the messenger on the World Tree).

There is just something so joyous about this book. I know I am returning to it with fond memories but there is just such a gorgeous message to it that I appreciate so much more as an adult. It just is such a hopeful little book about imagination and friendship, enjoying the good parts of life. I really loved my journey back into my own past and that of the littlest Viking.

I would love to chat all things bookish with you! You can comment down below or find me on Twitter or Goodreads!

Happy Reading!

2 thoughts on “Into Reading – Tales from the Norse’s Mouth

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