The Last Viking – Picture BotY 2012

It seems that I am completely alone in my lukewarm feelings about this book. According to this blog about the process of writing The last Viking, the book has been shortlisted for an impressive number of awards and earlier this month won the Crystal Kite award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (but the people at the internet can’t tell me who has won the award in the past so I don’t know if I should be impressed or not). Even HH liked it!

The last Viking tells the story of a little boy with the heebee geebees. He is afraid of the dark, he is afraid of the wind and he is afraid of pirates. What he should be afraid of is going to the park. During a trip to his grandparents’ house, Knut née Josh, gets some unsupervised time and is HORRENDOUSLY bullied by a bunch of kids who are undoubtedly going to take up smoking and end up unhappy or the CEO of a bank.

Somehow he manages to untie himself and goes home and retreats into a world of fantasy like Anders Breivik. Well, not quite like Anders but he does try to set the backyard on fire. All of this, in Josh’s mind or reality or something, catches the interest of the ancient Norse gods who intervene on his behalf or something.

The book is a very rich experience. The pages are lined with Viking runes and there is a key in the back so that young cryptographers can practice decoding. There is also an extract from the gigantic tome that Josh’s grandpa gave him that gives us some background into Viking history. Furthermore, as CBCA judge Michelle Prawer points out, the illustrations add a great deal to the story – nobody in the book tells us why Josh is being shipped off to his grandparents place but, from the illustrations, we do know.

In my humble opinion, the book lacks a bit of a moral compass and doesn’t really give kids any guidance on dealing with the issues that Josh has (both anxietywise and bullywise). A cleverer ending might have built that in. But who am I to ciriticise? The book is a great adventure and if I put myself into the shoes of a kid reading this I reckon I would be pretty thrilled about all that horrible stuff that happen to Josh in the park and that there are gods just hanging around wearing ace hats and intervening on decendents’ behalf. No doubt Jorgensen wished something like this was around when he was a little berserker.


About timthelibrarian

Tim Harwood is a Teacher Librarian and eLearning enthusiast.
This entry was posted in BotY, CBCA, Shortlist 2012. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Last Viking – Picture BotY 2012

  1. kerribatch says:

    Hi Tim! Thanks for keeping up the book reviews – they are always very entertaining & informative. I haven’t yet read any of them, but that’s despite your reviews rather than because of them….Keep up the great work!

    • Hi Kerri, great to hear from you! Obviously, if I were giving you some advice on where to get started, The Golden Day would be my choice for the older readers. From the younger readers, I just finished The Truth About Verity Sparks and man, it was really, really good.
      With you on long service I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye and thank you for the support that you gave me both in your professional capacity as Director of Learning(?) and also informally in the staff room. I hope the job is going well and I look forward to catching up with you again some time in the future!

      • kerribatch says:

        That’s very nice of you, Tim. I enjoyed working with you & was sorry not to be at your farewell. You made a big impact on the place – all positive! I hope you are having a good year, too.

    • kerribatch says:

      Err, that is, I haven’t read the BOOKS. I have been reading the reviews….

  2. Pingback: The story so far – CBCA Shortlist 2012 | Tim the Librarian

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