Reviews /

Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Taking the Blame

Authored by Louie Stowell
Illustrated by Louie Stowell
Published by Walker Books Ltd

Tagged , , , , , ,

This sequel to Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good is a humorous tale, or should that be saga, which centres on Loki, a Norse god disguised as ‘a very ordinary, yet very handsome mortal’.  Disgraced, Loki has been sent to earth as a boy. When wrongly accused of stealing Thor’s hammer, Loki embarks upon a quest to convince everyone of his innocence. Now this proves tricky, as he is, to be fair, usually the culprit! Told to stay on earth until he is worthy of Asgard, Loki narrates his exploits through the medium of a back-chatting diary, which adds a lovely layer of comedy, as well as some useful explanations for young readers.

A strength of this novel is its joyous sense of fun and extreme readability. Most children will enjoy the varying text formats: comic strips, speech balloons, doodles, inner thoughts, scoreboards, text messages, advertisements and posters. Louie Stowell’s passion for graphic novels and comics is obvious. This format often allows the clever inclusion of alternative narratives and thoughts. Mythology is mixed with today’s world, which enables the author to gently poke fun at certain aspects of culture, such as ‘spitting on’ cakes at birthday parties and banal reality television shows. It seems that modern mortals are just as eccentric in their customs as the gods of old!

Louie Stowell does not slow down to dwell on characters’ emotions and does not patronise children. Readers are given the freedom to piece together clues about Loki’s struggles, and I think this is what makes this better than some similar books I have read. For Loki is a very well-drawn character; he is a sarcastic, witty trickster, yet he also has a tangible desire for connection to belong, to be a team player, to have a family, to have friends. One message of the story is to use ‘words rather than tricks’ to achieve success – what a lovely message for children to hear! Louie Stowell also briefly discusses sexism and the ‘foolish idea that the world is divided into male and female things’. Educators could certainly build on this in the classroom or library.

It is difficult to sum up this text, as there is a little bit of everything included. There is chaos, mythology, mayhem, mystery, history, psychology and farting. Again, the author does not over-simplify vocabulary. Words like ‘mortifyingly,’ ‘theoretical,’ ‘sceptical’ and ‘heinous’ are included, as a few examples, and this will benefit learners. Above all, though, the comedy is spot on and I genuinely enjoyed the swift movement from serious to silly, for Loki still cannot quite admit that he has positive feelings for some of these mortals. ‘I felt a certain warmth in my chest area. Probably heartburn from last night’s late snacking.’

Unless educators have multiple copies of the text or a visualiser, I feel that this book is not a class read aloud – there is far too much to be gained from the visual elements, so the text must be seen. In my view, this will be an incredibly popular book in the reading corner or library. It will advertise itself. Children will choose it. Children will recommend it to their peers. It is one of those books that will be literally read to bits. Secretly, I am hoping that Loki never gets sent back to Asgard – there is so much more for him to explore in the realm of mortals. There is ‘Norway’ that Louie Stowell should end the series here! (Sorry for that joke.)