King Arthur to the Rescue

King Arthur has proved to be a popular figure in myth and legend ever since he first showed up in the written word back in the 12th Century.  McLure Library has a variety of retellings of these Celtic myths for a wide range of ages and interests.  There are several children’s series (they also appeal to YA’s and adults) that are popular with reader’s starting about Grade 4.  Two of the most popular for this age group are the series by Susan Cooper and Lloyd Alexander.

Susan Cooper wrote The Dark is Rising Sequence starting in 1965 and the series became a Children’s and Young Adult Best Seller.  The series is based on a combination of Arthurian legends, Celtic mythology, and Norse mythology that makes for a potent mash-up.  McLure has the entire sequence of 5 titles (our copies are well worn due to their popularity) in the collection starting with the first in the series Over Sea, Under Stone.

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The other titles in this series are: Dark is Rising, Greenwitch, Grey Kingand Silver on the Tree.  The Grey King won the Newbery Medal for excellence in Children’s Literature in 1975 and the concluding title in the series, Silver on the Tree was published in 1977.

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The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander is a pentology of Children’s High Fantasy that were published between 1964 and 1968.  These novels are also a combination of Welsh mythology and Arthurian legend.  The titles in this series are, in order: Book of ThreeBlack Cauldron, Castle of llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King.  There was a book of short stories published in 1973, Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain, that Mclure does not have in the collection.    The Black Cauldron was a Newbery Honor Book in 1966,  The High King won the Newbery Medal in 1969, and the series has remained popular through the years.


The renewed interest in the myths, legends, and stories from Scandinavia has resulted in a spate of re-releases of old classics.  These classics provided the inspiration for many of the Norse based novels that are present day hits.

Ingri D’Aulaire and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire won a Caldecott Medal in 1940 for their book Abraham Lincoln, but, perhaps, their best known works are their books on mythology.  The D’Aulaire’s did a series of books about Norse myths, legends and stories, that have been re-released and have the potential to inspire a new generation of readers.

The New York Review of Books has released a new edition of the classic D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths with a preface by Michael Chabon.  This book was part of a series that the D’Aulaires’ did that featured Scandinavia.  McLure Library does not have the Norse Myths volume, but the UA Libraries has the other books in the series in it’s collection.

Children of the North Lights published in 1935 is located at the Annex.


D’Aulaires’ Trollswas the follow-up to The Book of Norse Myths, and the 1972 edition of this volume is located in the UA Libraries Annex.    To request this title use this link.


If you are interested in these titles and want help in getting these titles just give us a call at McLure Library.  205-348-6055 and we will be happy to help.

More Norse Reading

The last blog post featured Norse mythology, so now let’s move on to what McLure Library has that features those berserk wild fighting men of the North and their fearless exploration of the vast northern oceans.  While the Vikings were known for their fighting prowess they also had their softer side.  They were great storytellers and these stories have come down to us in many forms.  McLure Library has several books that incorporate features of the Viking sagas and voyages of exploration into fascinating retellings of these tales of daring-do.  The television mini-series American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and the success of those brutal Viking epics like The Last Kingdom have brought about renewed interest in old Norse myths.  Here is a sample of some of the stories about those cold cold gods of the North and the Viking sagas.

Canadian historical fantasy author Guy Gavriel Kay‘s novel Last Light of the Sun is loosely based on Viking Sagas and is the tale of the conjoined fates of Bern Thorkellson and two others from lands ravaged by the Vikings.

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For a completely twisted Norse story, try Story of Owen.  This novel is not only a mashup of Arthurian legends and myths with a good dose of Beowulf thrown in for good measure, it is alternative history.  Told, somewhat, in the style of the old Norse Sagas, it is the story of Owen Thorskard, the dragon slayer of Trondheim.  Full of daring-do, it also features a bard – Siobhan MacQuaid.

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Calling Mr. Wednesday and Some of the Other Days of the Week

Don’t know who Mr. Wednesday is?  Mr. Thursday?  Ms. Friday.  Do you wonder who these people are, and why they are named for the days of the week?  (or is it the other way around?) Curious about Norse mythology?  Are your kids curious about Norse myths and legends.  McLure Library has some good reading available in those areas.

Starting with the basics, there are two beautiful books with general information and great pictures about the Norse Gods for young readers that will also appeal to adults.

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McLure Education Library

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If that is not enough Norse, or maybe, it is to fact filled, McLure Library other fantastical take-offs on Norse mythology that might catch your fancy.

Nancy Farmer, a Newbery Honor award winning author, has a trilogy that is full of action, humor, and Norse mythology that will teach and entertain.

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Alabama author Lou Anders has a series that make very good reads for middle grades.  McLure has all three titles in this ongoing series.

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Need a story that is part puzzle and part myth?  This one might be just the game.

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Feel the Heat! – Cool Northern Mythology

Take-offs and mashups using mythology as a starting point for YA novels has been a recent trend that shows no signs of abating and the fantasy genre is quickly diversifying its mythology base.  More diverse myths are being brought to the attention of readers and movie goers everywhere and McLure has plenty of titles for you that will keep you in the know when it comes to these myths and legends.

Now that the Dog Days of Summer are over and we are all ready to cozy up with warm drinks and good books that are perfect for those long winter nights, why not cozy up with the imaginative series based on Egyptian, Norse, Chinese, and Middle Eastern myths that are in McLure library?

Middle Grade author, Rick Riordan made his name retelling the Perseus, Greek demi-god myths, in the Percy Jackson series.

That series has been followed by two other series;  The Kane Chronicles, based on Egyptian mythology, that consists of three titles,

Red Pyramid                                    Throne of Fire                            Serpent’s Shadow

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The novels were quickly followed by the graphic novel version of these titles.  Mclure has two of them with the third due to be published soon.

Red Pyramid:                                                               Throne of Fire:

The Graphic Novel                                                   The Graphic Novel

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Riordan has also done a series featuring those fiery gods of the North.  Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, based on Norse mythology, that currently stands at two titles, with the third that was just published in October.

Sword of Summer                         Hammer of Thor

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The successful conversion of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods novel to the small screen world of TV is a modern retelling of Norse mythology for adults.  The UA libraries doesn’t have that particular novel, but McLure Library has Anansi Boy’s, the sequel to American GodsAnansi Boys is based in the myths of West Africa and the West Indies.  So if you like Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy in American Gods, check him out in a starring role in his own book: Anansi Boys.  It was listed for the Alex Award (Adult books suitable for Young Adults) in 2006 and is at McLure in the School Library Collection.

Cover Image   PR6057.A319 A85 2005

McLure doesn’t have Neil Gaiman’s current best seller Norse Mythology, (that is at Gorgas library) but we have a beautifully illustrated version of both Egyptian and Norse Mythology done by well known YA and children’s author Donna Jo Napoli.  The amazing colored illustrations are accompanied by brief explanations of each of the major Egyptian and Norse Gods that make looking at these books a real pleasure for these long winter evenings.

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All of these books are in the McLure Library School Library collection located in the basement of McLure Library.  If you would like to read any of these books call 348 – 6346 or 348-1508 and we will put it on hold for you.  Or you can come to McLure and see what other fantastic reading we have on our shelves.