Friday, 15 August 2014

The Last Viking Returns

The Last Viking Returns written by Norman Jorgensen with illustrations by James Foley (Fremantle Press)
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN 9781921888106
Reviewed by Neridah McMullin

The Last Viking Returns is a fun and adventurous book about being brave and looking after your siblings.

Josh is as brave as a Viking warrior and not a lot worries him. But when Josh’s youngest twins go berserk (meaning they are an absolute handful and are out of control), Josh, Grandpa and Nan are at their wits end.

To get them out of the house, Grandpa suggests they visit ‘Viking World’.

‘Viking World’ is theme park about all things Viking. There’s Viking food (Bjorn Burgers – hilarious!), sideshows such as the ‘Hammer of Thor’ and the show stealing act of a Viking kings funeral re-enactment, which involves a Viking longship being set aflame.

Well, the twins clear off and of course, they appear on the longship just before it’s about to be set on fire to be sent to it’s fiery grave.

Parallel to this story, is another. Thor is up in Asgard (Viking Heaven) looking down and watching Josh. He can see that Knut (Josh’s Viking name) and the twins are in trouble but at the same time Asgard itself comes under attack from a fire-breathing dragon called Fafnir.

Knut saves the day thanks to the ‘Hammer of Thor’ and it all ends satisfactorily well.

There’s a very cool section that goes with the story that gives all sort of information about Vikings. There’s also a lot of detail in James Foley’s illustrations. Every time you read this, you will pick up something new. The emotion on Josh’s face is so real, his twins do look like they are going ‘berserk’ with the mess they make and Josh’s little dog Wolverine is wonderful.

Norman Jorgensen’s words and James Foley’s illustrations perfectly compliment each other. As with all good picture books, the words allow room for the illustrator use artwork to expand and add meaning to the story.

There are wonderfully creative Teaching Resources available on Fremantle Press’s website and on Norman Jorgensen’s author website relating to the story, children will have a ball applying the rune alphabet write their own secret messages and codes. The illustrator James Foley has a blog called, and this also gives a fascinating look at his journey in creating the artwork for this picture book.

This is a highly recommended read for primary school readers.

Neridah McMullin is the author of two books for children. Her next book is an Indigenous folklore story called 'Kick it to me!'. It’s an ‘aussie rules’ story that’s being endorsed by the Australian Football League. Neridah loves family, footy, and doing yoga with her cat Carlos (who also loves footy!).

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