Valdur the Viking and the Ghostly Goths (Craig Cormick, Ford Street)
Valdur the Viking is having a pretty bad day. First, his pet dog Ragna—who is maybe a dragon—eats the last pickle. Then his father and most of their ship’s crew are taken prisoner by the horrendous Goth Germanicus Bottom. And that’s all before the Romans show up and the sea monster attacks. Will Valdur be able to dodge cruise ships, defeat dastardly salesmen, keep his friends safe and still manage to rescue his father? Historical ghostly misadventure on the high seas is the best way to describe Valdur the Viking and the Ghostly Goths and yes, it is exactly as much fun as it sounds. With a cast of ghosts, author Craig Cormick is able to use a modern setting while engaging lightly with history; Romans, Goths, Vikings, explorers, pirates, sea monsters and holiday makers all combine to create this wryly funny story. There are a few incongruous formatting issues, including type that doesn’t feel quite right for the age group and pictures that don’t correspond as neatly with the text as they could, but the illustrations themselves are simple and sweet. This is a delightfully funny and well-told story for readers aged seven and up.
Meg Whelan is the children’s book buyer at the Hill of Content Bookshop in Melbourne