The Littlest Viking

illus. by Isabel Roxas. 40p. Knopf. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399554292.
PreS-Gr 2—Sven is the littlest, loudest Viking, until he's usurped by a warrior princess. Young Sven screams and bites and terrorizes, steals food, and boldly takes whatever he wants from the burliest Viking. But best of all, he likes to tell stories of battles and voyages. Enter the littlest warrior princess, who can outscream him. Now no one wants to hear Sven's stories. Adults are at their wits' end; how can they get the princess to stop her ear-piercing cries? Young readers will revel in watching the children run rings around the adults. With images that harken to Norse mythology, Roxas creates muted, soft gouache and colored pencil illustrations with a Scandinavian feel. Penfold's storytelling is full of surprises; when staring down at the baby, villagers ask, "What's this? A fair maiden?" Page turn reveals, "No, a warrior princess!" The "Waaah!!" full-page scream that repeats throughout the tale is both anticipated and raucous. Read aloud with preschoolers if you dare—think David Shannon's No, David! The use of loaded words such as plunder and pillage strike a discordant note that may make some adults wince. But the narrative draws a fine balance between Viking life and the universality of a child's world; even the littlest warrior likes to play dress-up.
VERDICT A spirited tale about stopping a tantrum with a story, perfect for storytime or one-on-one sharing.

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