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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Arthur and the Golden Rope, by Joe Todd-Stanton. Flying Eye Books, Publishers Group Canada. 2016. $27.50 ages 6 and up

"My most treasured possession is actually this humble collection of books. They contain tales of lands and creatures long forgotten, as told by the people who collected these amazing objects - my ancestors! They include such adventures as ... ... Eleanor Brownstone's discovery of the Crystal Kingdom and her subsequent death-defying escape."

Our narrator goes on ...

"But before all that, there was the first adventure a Brownstone ever had. This is the tale of Arthur, the unlikeliest of heroes."

The young boy was always different. He loved the odd creatures in the forest where he liked to spend his days. He loved to listen to Atrix (the wise woman) tell stories that upped  his thirst for adventure. As he ventured forth, he carried with him some of his prized possessions - a feather, a magic staff, the Hand of Time, and this journal.

While searching for a magical worm, he is terrified by a howling and the rapid movement of a 'monstrous black wolf'. The wolf manages to put out the Icelandic village fire while being threatened by many townsfolk. And then it just disappears! The future for the villagers is dire - no heat, no hope for a future beyond one week.

Atrix has a solution:

"Across the sea lies the land of the Viking gods. In a mighty hall on top of a mountain, there lives a god with a hammer that can command the skies. He alone has the power to relight our fire."

Kids who have been to the movies in recent times might just recognize Thor as the likely helper god. Everyone in town is suffering from their fight with Fenrir, the son of Loki. Only Arthur is unharmed, and some townsfolk are blaming him for the wolf's visit. With his useful possessions in hand, he sets off to find Thor, who sends him on a quest to capture the beast. He will need two special ingredients. It's a long and treacherous journey, but the results are just what a hero story demands.

This is the first in the Brownstone's Mythical Collection series, and we can only hope there will be more. It is the debut work for this fine artist and we are lucky to enter the Norse world of gods and adventure through his rich illustrations. The wordless panels, the clear storytelling, the fascinating world of Norse myth will surely attract the attention of many, who will then highly anticipate another family adventure.

It's a promise, don't you think? 

"And that is the tale of the very first Brownstone. Maybe one day you will hear more of my ancestors' adventures, but until then, dear reader, I hope you go out and find some of your own ... because sometimes the greatest heroes are the unlikeliest."

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