img_8521-1Book: Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman

Something that I could not quite put my finger on has drawn me to this book a few times when I have perused the children’s section of my local bookstore. I suppose it is most likely the beautiful cover, combined with an affinity for Neil Gaiman’s work in general. Despite picking it up a few times, I never actually read through the book until recently.

I always buy a book for each of the kids at our extended family’s Christmas party, and finally decided to pick this one up while shopping for them. I loved the simplicity of this book. It has the feeling of a folktale, although I am not sure if it has any basis in the actual mythology of India. Cinnamon is a princess who is blind and also does not speak. Her parents have offered many riches to anyone who is able to get her to speak, but all have failed. A tiger steps in to do the work that humans have failed to complete. In addition to an enjoyable story, I find Divya Srinivasan’s illustrations striking. The colors are bright and bold; the style is simplistic but full of detail.

Boris’s thoughts: “I could be a tiger. Majestic and all. Roar. Although I don’t know why the tiger would WANT more humans to talk. 3 paws.”

Norse Mythology

Book: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Date Read: February 14, 2018 to February 28, 2018img_5787

Rating: 4 (of 5) stars

This book came out with near perfect timing for me. In late 2017, a couple of friends asked me if I was interested in going on a trip with them in the summer… to Iceland. That was a quick yes for me. Not long after committing to the trip, I decided that I would need to brush up on some Norse Mythology– this mythology is still a big part of the culture of Iceland today, and I felt it only appropriate that I should have at least a basic knowledge of the subject. Fast forward just a bit to holiday shopping at various local bookstores, and I came across this take on the mythology written by Neil Gaiman. Perfect! While I am not super well versed in Gaiman’s work, I have read several of his books and have quite enjoyed them.

I have always been interested in mythology, folktales, fairy tales, and legends. That being said, I sometimes have a hard time reading them. While I enjoy them, they do not always turn out to be the quick reads that I want them to be. This book worked out very well for me. While I realize this is nowhere near a comprehensive collection of Norse tales, I liked how Gaiman selected stories that could be fit together into a narrative arc. I did not need to cross reference stories and jump back and forth as I read, because the chronology was there. From what I can tell, he has stayed true to the narrative of each tale, with minimal additions. I suppose this is both a positive and negative. I can see why those more familiar with these tales would be disappointed in this book, but for me and my purpose in reading, it worked. I finished with a feeling that I have a basic knowledge of Norse Mythology, and did not spend months agonizing over a lengthy textbook-ish rendition to do so. From what I know about the geography of Iceland, so much of the creation and destruction myths seem to fit so well. I am looking forward to seeing this in person, and feel like reading this ahead of time has given me an opportunity for a greater appreciation of my destination.

As a final thought, I would like to share my reasoning in the timing of this post. While I read this book back in February, and wrote the majority of this review shortly after, I felt it fitting to wait until closer to my trip to post. I leave tonight! I am super excited for this trip, and my first major international travel in more than 10 years! As I will be gone for close to 2 weeks, I will not be posting another book review until I am back. I have a long flight ahead of me though, so I will have plenty of reading material to get me through.

Boris’s thoughts: “Book is a little heavy, but human seemed pleased while reading. 3 pa– Wait? You’re leaving? Stop! No! 1 paw! 1 paw!!”