The first entry in author Annabel Schiøtz’s troll series offers a delightful little tale for young readers with big imaginations.
Author Annabel Schiøtz likes trolls and dragons. She sees them in the forest when she walks her dog; well, bushes, branches and trees shaped as she would imagine trolls must look. She takes photos of them to show to her six grandchildren. It’s from these experiences that she came up with her Troll series. Aiming for ages two to seven – but closer to two in my opinion – they offer light and colourful reading that’s sure to engage your child’s imagination.
Blue Troll’s Broken Berry Rod - Story Review
In Blue Troll's Broken Berry Rod, a grandmother, Besti, is taking her little dog, Lula, for a walk through the forest. There’s nothing particularly extraordinary about such a walk: she does it every day. So imagine Besti’s surprise when she comes across a large, blue troll using a fishing rod to catch blueberries. “Goodness gracious,” she might say. When the blue troll's rod mysteriously breaks, Besti sets off on a little adventure to help find out what happened. On that journey she meets more curious critters from the forest.
Blue Troll's Broken Berry Rod cuddles into the broken blueberry catcher mystery tightly, foregoing scene setting to focus in on its curious tale. This approach works just fine. I don't see kids having any problems leaping straight into the encounter with the blue troll, even if the lack of preamble might catch some off guard. In places the story does rely on the art to join some of the dots for the reader, but it remains easy to follow. That said, there are some clunky and unnecessary words scattered throughout that make the editor in me cry out for a chance to have a tweak. As well as some overly long and strangely punctuated sentences.
As the introductory book to the series, I was left wanting to meet the other trolls, which is a good sign! I expect your children will want to do the same. As of this writing, there are four books in total, with a fifth on the way, so lots more to explore.
Blue Troll’s Broken Berry Rod - Design Review
Blue Troll's Broken Berry Rod is quite text heavy, with minimal use of minimal art. Roughly hewn and very indie, I quite liked the book’s painted visual style. It’s unlike anything I have come across before. The bright colour choice and concise, simple setting means the relative lack of detail doesn't hurt the story as it might have in more expansive narratives. Although it was odd that the dog went missing for a few frames in the middle of the story.
Taking a traditional A4 portrait form, Annabel Schiøtz wisely pairs text to an illustration on the facing page. This helps lessen the intensity of the large text blocks and ensures each stanza is given visual representation. There are some layout issues with the text - such as widows and condensed paragraph spacing – and the cover’s balance is off, but it's nothing that impacts readability.
There’s no doubting though that Blue Troll's Broken Berry Rod has its heart in the right place. Annabel Schiøtz is sharing with us a little piece of the relationship she shares with her grandchildren and the forest that surrounds them. I certainly encourage her to continue to take us on walks to meet more of the trolls. I wonder which colour I’ll meet next?
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