Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman is a children's book set right in the middle of Norse mythology. I have a special liking for that mythology, I always found their gods to be very likeable and the thought that they have to face a destiny just as grim as that of any human fascinating. It may be the darkest mythology out there (I seriously wonder if the weather had something to do with that) and I love it.
Odd is a young boy who one day, during a very long winter, meets a fox, a bear and an eagle in the woods. It quickly becomes clear that the animals are Thor, Loki and Odin who have been turned into animals by one of the Frost Giants who has taken over Asgard. It was Loki's fault. No-one is surprised. Odd offers his help and off they go on a quest to win back Asgard from the Frost Giants.
I loved the bickering gods, who even in their animal form have the feeling of power and mystery to them. The Frost Giant is my favourite character, though, totally surprised by Odd and his carefree smile and willing to listen to him. The solution to the problem is beautiful and simple and satisfying. I also like that not everything is perfect in the end - in Norse mythology it never is - but it's good enough.
The illustrations by Brett Helquist are beautiful, as are the headers of each chapter. There's no need to know anything about the Norse gods to like this book, but if you do, it makes it even more enjoyable.
44th book for the Library Challenge