Reviews /

How to be a Hero

Authored by Cat Weldon
Illustrated by Katie Kear
Published by Macmillan Children's Books

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How to be a Hero embarks upon a Viking adventure in this winning story of courage and remaining true to yourself. Whetstone has always sat at the bottom of society. Without the brawn to keep up with the more muscular Vikings, crime appears the only way to reach the fame and glory that he so desperately wants. But when he strikes a deal with a well known thief and agrees to steal a magical cup, Whetstone tumbles into a whole host of trouble. After being accidentally transported to Asgard by a failing trainee Valkyrie named Lotta, the pair become embroiled in a race to reclaim the stolen object and prove their worth as heroes. But Lotta and Whetstone may not be alone in their quest, and there could be more to the cup than first meets the eye… How to be a Hero is funny and pacy from start to finish, with a pinch of mischief and wit throughout.

Weldon’s narrative is sure to entertain with her playful style and often absurd comic characters. Amidst the ridiculous scrapes that Whetstone and Lotta find themselves in, Weldon leaves room for children to ponder upon moral questions about different forms of heroism, the price of finding a sense of false belonging and whether to make decisions to benefit yourself or others. This leaves us with a story that is subtly thoughtful as well as good fun.

I would not hesitate to recommend this text to lovers of adventure in Lower Key Stage Two and beyond. It would certainly spark a child’s interest in Norse mythology, and complement any unit of work about the Vikings. From Ygdrasil’s nine realms to the antics of the gods, Whetstone’s adventure is the perfect platform to begin exploring Viking beliefs. The narrative is adorned by Kear’s delightful illustrations and the maps provide a key point of reference throughout the story, adding another layer to Whetstone and Lotta’s travels. With Weldon set to release a further two stories to the series, I look forward to exploring more of the nine worlds alongside our lovable valkyrie and courageous Viking.