Review of Across the Rainbow Bridge: Stories of Norse Gods and Humans

Across the Rainbow Bridge: Stories of Norse Gods and Humans
by Kevin Crossley-Holland; illus. by Jeffrey Alan Love
Intermediate, Middle School, High School   Candlewick Studio    88 pp.    g
10/21    978-1-5362-1771-1    $18.99

In five stories, Norse gods cross the rainbow bridge from Asgard and visit us below, in the world of humans, dwarfs, and giants. Loki saves a child from being kidnapped by a troll; a mysterious laborer helps put to rest the corpse of a miserly husband; a little girl is blessed with the gift of blue flowering flax. These are stories full of riddles, trickery, bounty, and an overwhelming awareness of the hugeness, littleness, and beauty of the natural world. Each is “blood-bright and…relevant today,” writes Crossley-Holland in the foreword: true, and in no small measure due to his own strong, musical prose and Love’s deep, dark illustrations, in as monumental a style as geological features. Although the tales are set in the past, there’s an immediacy and intimacy to the narrative voice that brings them right into the space of reader or listener. “Will that be you?” the collection ends; “Will it be your tongue I touch with the mead of poetry?” “The awkward black ribs of the mountain”; “a lap of green land”; “a wicked army of rock slabs” — the earth comes alive through such language, while cosmic radiance pours down the page in Love’s art. Even Crossley-Holland’s sentence structure upholds and deepens the tales’ mingling of earthly physicality and unpredictable, spirited gods. With their unexpected turns and in the author’s fresh, poetic language, these tales become exceptionally mysterious and captivating.

From the January/February 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Deirdre Baker
Deirdre F. Baker
Deirdre F. Baker, a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and the Toronto Star, teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto. The author of Becca at Sea (Groundwood), she is currently at work on a sequel—written in the past tense.

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