Sunday, May 8, 2011

Peter and the North Wind retold by Freya Littledale

Peter and the North Wind is a retelling of an old Norse tale.  Norse mythology are the religious beliefs of Norse pagans dating back from the 11th to the 18th century.

Peter, a young boy, and his mother are poor.  One day he went to the barn to get flour but the North Wind began blowing and blew the flour away.  Determined to get flour he tried again and again but the North Wind continued to blow it away.  So, Peter decided to seek out the North Wind and recover the flour.  He found the North Wind but when he asked for the flour back the North Wind told him that all he had was a magic cloth.  The North Wind told Peter to ask the magic cloth anytime for food and the magic cloth would provide it.  When Peter arrived home he asked the cloth for food.  The cloth magically provided food, but the innkeeper saw this happening and stole it in the middle of the night.  Peter set off again looking for the North Wind.  Again he found it and the North Wind provided a magic goat that would make gold.  Peter took it home and again the innkeeper saw the goat make gold.  The innkeeper stole the goat.  Peter set off again to find the North Wind.  This time the North Wind gave him a magic stick.  Peter took the stick home.  This time when he went to bed he kept an eye open and saw the innkeeper trying to steal his stick.  Peter had the stick beat the innkeeper until he returned the items he stole.

From that day on Peter and his mother were happy because they always had what they wanted.

The illustrations (by Troy Howell) showed little emotion on Peter's face throughout the story.  He was pictured as a poor little soul from start to finish.  This same illustrator provided the illustrations to Pinocchio, Heidi, The Secret Garden, The Ugly Duckling, and other classics.  He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia with his wife and son.

This book was very simple and sweet.  The reviews were not great on this version of the story.  "The story has inherent charm, but his version does little to enhance it." (The School Library Journal)

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