Book List: Norwegian History and Culture

This is a collection of children’s books (picture books, early chapter, and middle grade) and young adult literature relating to Norway and at times greater Scandinavia, both fiction and non-fiction. Having kids read books from this collection is a great way for them to learn about Norwegian culture and history.

* Viking Times *

* Immigration to US *

  • West of the Moon by Margi Preus — This story weaves Norwegian folk tales into two sisters’ quest to travel to America in 1800s. (middle grade)
  • The Dala Horse by Lissa Johnston —Ten-year-old Kaya Olson lives in a small Norwegian immigrant settlement in post-Civil War Texas. She must uncover the secrets her family is keeping to solve the mystery surrounding her mother’s death. (middle grade)

* World War II *

  • Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin (translated from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger) —This novel is about first love during World War II in Norway. It takes place during the time of the German occupation of Oslo and explores the hard times for Jewish families and the secret and daring work of the Resistance. (young adult)
  • My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts by Torill Kove — This book was originally an animated short film. It is a tall tale based on the author’s Norwegian grandmother’s stories about ironing shirts for the King of Norway during World War II. (picture book)
  • The Klipfish Code by Mary Casanova — Despite her grandfather’s warnings, 12-year-old Marit and her brother Lars secretly help the Norwegian Resistance under Nazi rule in 1942. (middle grade)
  • Odin’s Promise by Sandy Brehl — This is the story of the first year of German occupation of Norway during World War II as seen through the eyes of a young girl. This book is followed by Bjørn’s Gift and Mari’s Hope. (middle grade)
  • On the Edge of the Fjord by Alta Halverson Seymour — This is the story of the German occupation of a small fishing village. 14-year old Petra and her brother take part in daring schemes right under the noses of the occupying forces. Interestingly, this book was published before WW II had ended. (middle grade)
  • The Revenge of Tirpitz by M. L. Sloan — This story goes back and forth in time and place between Norway in 1944 and Shetland in Scotland in 2014. It’s a fast paced thrilling story of a boy’s role in the sinking of the warship Tirpitz. (middle grade)
  • Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus — Fourteen-year-old Espen and his friends are swept up in the Resistance movement in occupied Norway during WWII. (middle grade)
  • Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan — This is a daring adventure based on a true story about a group of Norwegian children who smuggled nine million dollars in gold past Nazi guards during World War II. (middle grade)

* Norse Mythology, Fairy Tales, & Folk Lore *

  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Series by Rick Riordan — Magnus Chase is the Percy Jackson of Norse mythology. This is a trilogy consisting of The Sword of Summer, The Hammer of Thor, and The Ship of the Dead, along with companion books 9 from the Nine Worlds and For Magnus Chase: Hotel Valhalla Guide to the Norse Worlds: Your Introduction to Deities, Mythical Beings, & Fantastic Creatures. (middle grade)
  • Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman — This novel is inspired by traditional Norse mythology and takes readers on a “wild and magical trip to the land of giants and gods and back”. (middle grade)
  • The Sea of Trolls (Sea of Trolls Trilogy) by Nancy Farmer — Jack and his sister are kidnapped and enslaved by Saxon invaders. This is a daring adventure based on Norse mythology and ancient history complete with trolls and other giant creatures. (middle grade)
  • Loki’s Wolves (The Blackwell Pages, Book 1) by K. L. Armstrong & M. A. Marr — The Blackwell Pages series takes place in the modern day in a town where most inhabitants are direct descendants of the Norse gods Thor and Loki. In the last book of the trilogy, these inhabitants have to battle fierce monsters working to bring about the apocalypse. (middle grade)
  • Seven Ways to Trick a Troll written by Lise Lunge-Larsen — Trolls! They are huge and ugly and very, very dangerous. But luckily, their brains are no bigger than a walnut, so even small children can trick them. Patience, kindness, courage, and quick thinking—what works against trolls are the best things about being human. Taken from a wide range of historical and international sources, Seven Ways to Trick a Troll will delight and entertain imaginations of all ages. (picture book)
  • Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George — When a great white bear promises untold riches to her family, “the Lass” agrees to go away with him. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle. To unravel the mystery, “the Lass” sets out on a windswept journey beyond the edge of the world. It is a reimagined story based on the Nordic legend East of the Sun, West of the Moon with romantic echoes of Beauty and the Beast.
  • The Princess and the White Bear King by Tanya Robyn Batt — Combining the themes of three classic tales “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”, “The Black Bull of Norroway” and “The White Bear King”, this fairy tale takes its roots from the Scandinavian tradition, but its story and its message (“where there is no trust, there can be no love”) are universal. (picture book)

* Books by Norwegian Authors in Translation *

Picture Books

  • Agnes’s Place by Marit Larsen, illlustrated by Jenny Løvlie, translated by Kari Dickson
  • Bedtime for Bo by Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold, illustrated by Mari Kanstad Johnsen, translated by Kari Dickson
  • Garmann’s Summer by Stian Hole, translated by Don Bartlett — This is an award-winning picture book that delves into the mind of a young boy who is afraid of starting school. Garmann’s Summer is followed by Garmann’s Street and then Garmann’s Secret.
  • John Jensen Feels Different by Henrik Hovland, illustrated by Torill Kove, translated by Don Bartlett
  • What Does the Fox Say? by Ylvis (illustrated by Svein Nyhus) – “Do you know what the fox says? Based on the hugely popular YouTube video [by Norwegian comedy duo consisting of brothers Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker] with more than 200 million views, this picture book is packed full of foxy fun.”

Middle Grade Books

  • Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr (translated by Guy Puzey) — This story takes place in Norway and is about the summer adventures of two best friends, Trille, a boy, and Lena, a girl. Their adventures often end in trouble. In the follow-up Lena, the Sea, and Me, Lena and Trille are little older and have to navigate the rough waters of friendship when a new soccer coach and a new girl in school disrupt their seaside escapades.
  • Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr (translated by Guy Puzey) – “Pippi Longstocking meets Heidi meets Anne Shirley in this tale of an irrepressible girl in a mountain village who navigates unexpected changes with warmth and humor.”
  • Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder (series) by Jo Nesbø (translated by Tara F. Chase) — This is bestselling Norwegian mystery author Jo Nesbø’s humorous middle-grade series for kids. It’s filled with magic, wit, and bathroom humor.
  • Mulysses by Øyvind Torseter (translated by Kari Dickson) – “An astonishing, high-adventure graphic novel that playfully remixes The Odyssey, Moby Dick, and more, from Norway’s greatest cartoonist.”
  • Our Own Little Paradise by Marianne Kaurin (translated by Olivia Lasky) – “Could summer in your neighborhood turn out to be better than an exotic holiday overseas? Ina and her new neighbor Vilmer are about to find out…”
  • The Ballad of a Broken Nose by Arne Svingen (translated by Kari Dickson) – “From award-winning Norwegian author Arne Svingen comes ‘an uplifting coming-of-age story’ (The Wall Street Journal) about a relentlessly positive teenager who uses his love of opera to cope with his less-than-perfect home life.”
  • The Night Guard by Synne Lea, illustrated by Stian Hole (translated by John Irons) — This is an illustrated book of poetry for children.
  • The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell — “Exhilarating suspense and unforgettable characters await the readers of this magical adventure” by this Norwegian author writing in English.
  • William Wenton and the Impossible Puzzle by Bobbie Peers (translated by Tara F. Chase) — Blackthorn Key meets The Da Vinci Code in this award-winning novel about a puzzle-solving genius living in Norway who is forced to use his skills to face a danger that has been lurking in the background for years.

Young Adult

  • 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad (translated by Tara Chase) – “A terrifying thriller for young adult fans of The Martian and paranormal space adventure that will be devoured in one heart-pounding sitting.”
  • Minus Me by Ingelin Rossland (translated by Deborah Dawkin) — A 13-year old girl learns she has a rare heart condition and must have a heart transplant. Instead of taking it easy, she creates a bucket list of activities she wants to do with her best friend and a mysterious boy keeps appearing and questioning her actions.
  • Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder (translated by Paulette Møller)

* Christmas in Scandinavia *

On this list you’ll find classic and contemporary authors from within and outside Scandinavia writing about Christmas and wintertime in Scandinavia.

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