Reviews /

Two Terrible Vikings

Authored by Francesca Simon
Illustrated by Steve May
Published by Faber

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Two Terrible Vikings, Hack and Whack, get up to all sorts of mischief in their Viking village, along with their eclectic group of friends (with really good names) and pet wolf, Bitey Bitey.

Two Terrible Vikings contains three stories. The first sees Hack and Whack gate crash a strange celebration known as a birthday party. And much to their frustration they’re not the ones getting the presents. In the second story, after once more pushing their mum to the limit, they confidently track a troll. But will all their bravado seal their place in Viking history? All the friends set off to raid Bad Island in the third story. They can’t wait to steal treasure and axes, which will surely impress everyone at home. Although their destination isn’t quite what they expected.

I’m a fan of books like this with separate stories in them. They give the variety and the quick satisfaction that younger readers demand, while also giving more narrative details than a picture book. And while there were things a liked about it, there were also things I didn’t.

The hook states, “What if your parents WANTED you to behave badly?” Although, the parents seem to be frustrated with their children’s behaviour most of the time. Throughout the whole book, the parents give mixed messages about how they want their children to behave. It makes me think whether the title refers to the parents, and not the two children who are on the cover. But I did LOVE how independent, brave, and confident the children were in exploring the world around them. I think all children need to channel their inner-Viking in this way.

The pace and length of each story are good, and the illustrations are a lot of fun. However, I think they’re under-used and overly-dominated by the text. I’m not sure this would work as a read-aloud because the short sentences seem to interrupt the flow. Although, I’m sure many young readers will love Hack and Whack’s (mis)adventures. After all, I’m not the target audience; it’s for those terrible KS1ers!