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The Race of the Birkebeiners [Hardcover]

Lise Lunge-Larsen , Mary Azarian
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 24 2001
When they went into battle they wore no costly armor, just birchbark wrapped around their legs, and so they were called Birkebeiners, which means “Birchleggers.” It is the year 1206, and deep in the snow-covered mountains and valleys of Norway the fiercest warriors in the land struggle to ski a baby to safety. They race against the greed and inequity of the rich, against the very weather of Norway. They race as the only way to save a child prince and bring peace to their country.
Here is a true, untold story of both bravery and tenderness. Mary Azarian’s strong, sure woodcuts capture the warmth and ruggedness of medieval life, while Lise Lunge-Larsen’s dramatic telling is direct and mesmerizing.

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Product Description

From Amazon

Imagine the bravest, fiercest Norwegian warriors that ever lived, carrying a baby prince across blizzard-wracked mountains to save his life. Picture the babe's mother undergoing a cruel, brutal test to prove her son is indeed the bona fide prince of Norway. A fairy tale? No, this is a true story, based on the account written in 1264 by Sturla Tordsson, about the Middle Ages' most powerful king during what are known as Norway's Golden Years. Norwegian-born author Lise Lunge-Larsen tells the story of this king's miraculous adventure in infancy, while woodcut artist Mary Azarian stunningly depicts the heroism of the birch-bark armored peasant warriors, the Birkebeiners.

Mary Azarian was awarded the Caldecott Medal for her lovely woodcut illustrations in Snowflake Bentley. Lunge-Larsen is the award-winning author of The Troll with No Heart in His Body and The Legend of the Lady Slipper. (Ages 4 and older) --Emilie Coulter

From Publishers Weekly

Based on a 1264 account documenting a true incident in Norwegian history, this engaging narrative opens during a 1206 Christmas Eve gathering at the home of one of the Birkebeiners, a group of brave warriors. A priest knocks on the door, who has in his protection a baby, Prince Hakon, and his mother; a rival band aspires to kill the child (who is heir to the throne) and to declare one of their own king. Soon a handful of Birkebeiners escorts the trio, escaping on skis across tall, stormy mountains. Caldecott winner Azarian's (Snowflake Bentley) finely detailed woodcut illustrations, hand-tinted with watercolors, capture the serene snow-covered landscape as well as the driving snowstorm that impedes the travelers' progress. In direct and compelling prose, Lunge-Larsen recounts how the two Birkebeiners most renowned for their skiing ability forge ahead with the prince, fortuitously happen upon a barn buried under a snowdrift and manage to keep the baby alive by feeding him snow. In a concluding note, the author explains that Hakon became Norway's most powerful king during the Middle Ages and brought peace and prosperity to the country, making this rescue tale all the more gratifying. The stately art, which includes intricate borders framing blocks of text, neatly captures the historical and cultural aspects of this story. Ages 5-9.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Customer Reviews

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book Aug. 24 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a gorgeous book with illustrations that are breathtaking in their beauty. As for the content, it is a fascinating story. The Christian content of the book is not as inappropriate as a previous review made it seem. No more so than any of the other well-done books centered on other religions. The violence is not troublesome , either, unless one expects their children to be in a position to carry red hot irons at home or school! I would hope that when exposing children to the many facets and experiences the world has to offer, we don't deprive them of wonderful books such as these simply to conform to a contemporary politically correct outlook.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars A Norwegian Miracle..... Jan. 23 2002
Format:Hardcover
The Birkebeiners were peasants and fierce warriors in the Middle Ages whose King sat on the throne of Norway. Their rivals, the Baglers, were rich noblemen who wanted to claim the throne for themselves. In 1206, the King had died and left behind an infant son, Prince Hakon. His Queen, Inge, hid her baby for over a year to keep him safe, but as the Baglers became stronger, and threatened the life of the prince, she realized it was time to travel north to Nidaros where the Birkebeiners would protect them, and the prince could take his rightful place on the throne. She asked the priest, Sira Trond, for help, and he gathered the best and bravest men of his small village. To outwit the Baglers, this small band of Birkebeiners decided to ski over the mountains at the darkest, coldest, most dangerous time of the year, braving fierce storms to bring their Queen and baby Prince to safety..... Take a slice of engaging medieval history, add beautiful and evocative artwork, and you have The Race Of The Birkebeiners. Based on Sturla Tordsson's account of the escape and rescue of Norway's future King Hakon, written in 1264, Lise Lunge-Larsen has authored a compelling picture book that's sure to mesmerize youngsters with its powerful story. Her dramatic text is full of atmosphere and suspense, and begs to be read aloud. Mary Azarian's rich, bold and colorful woodcut illustrations transport the reader back to Medieval times, and on this long ago journey over mountains, through snowstorms, and darkness to safety. With an afterword detailing King Hakon's reign, Norway's Golden Years, and how the Birkebeiners are still honored today for their bravery and heroism, this is an exceptional and captivating story children 5-9 shouldn't miss.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Winter Wonderful Nov. 1 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
We collect all books beautiful for our home education library,
this was another excellent find. Mary Azarian is an all-time favorite; Lise Lunge-Larsen tells the story with suspence and
wonder. Historical intrique for both boys & girls...a great example of Medieval times that take place somewhere other than
English countryside. This family appreciates the colorful text
that will surely enhance language skills. Holiday gift or for
home education, this one is a MUST HAVE!
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be careful with young/sensitive children... Feb. 4 2002
Format:Hardcover
This book is beautifully illustrated and the language developmentally appropriate for children as young as four, but my six-year old niece was horrified when Queen Inga goes through the "Trial of Irons" (carrying red hot iron bars from one end of the church to the other). Also, we are not a Christian family, and I found the continual references to the Church and God and miracles overbearing and preachy, even if they are in keeping with the original saga. I would suggest parents use caution before ordering this book, as gorgeously done as it is.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Norwegian Miracle..... Jan. 22 2002
By Roz Levine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Birkebeiners were peasants and fierce warriors in the Middle Ages whose King sat on the throne of Norway. Their rivals, the Baglers, were rich noblemen who wanted to claim the throne for themselves. In 1206, the King had died and left behind an infant son, Prince Hakon. His Queen, Inge, hid her baby for over a year to keep him safe, but as the Baglers became stronger, and threatened the life of the prince, she realized it was time to travel north to Nidaros where the Birkebeiners would protect them, and the prince could take his rightful place on the throne. She asked the priest, Sira Trond, for help, and he gathered the best and bravest men of his small village. To outwit the Baglers, this small band of Birkebeiners decided to ski over the mountains at the darkest, coldest, most dangerous time of the year, braving fierce storms to bring their Queen and baby Prince to safety..... Take a slice of engaging medieval history, add beautiful and evocative artwork, and you have The Race Of The Birkebeiners. Based on Sturla Tordsson's account of the escape and rescue of Norway's future King Hakon, written in 1264, Lise Lunge-Larsen has authored a compelling picture book that's sure to mesmerize youngsters with its powerful story. Her dramatic text is full of atmosphere and suspense, and begs to be read aloud. Mary Azarian's rich, bold and colorful woodcut illustrations transport the reader back to Medieval times, and on this long ago journey over mountains, through snowstorms, and darkness to safety. With an afterword detailing King Hakon's reign, Norway's Golden Years, and how the Birkebeiners are still honored today for their bravery and heroism, this is an exceptional and captivating story children 5-9 shouldn't miss.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Winter Wonderful Nov. 1 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
We collect all books beautiful for our home education library,
this was another excellent find. Mary Azarian is an all-time favorite; Lise Lunge-Larsen tells the story with suspence and
wonder. Historical intrique for both boys & girls...a great example of Medieval times that take place somewhere other than
English countryside. This family appreciates the colorful text
that will surely enhance language skills. Holiday gift or for
home education, this one is a MUST HAVE!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book Aug. 23 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a gorgeous book with illustrations that are breathtaking in their beauty. As for the content, it is a fascinating story. The Christian content of the book is not as inappropriate as a previous review made it seem. No more so than any of the other well-done books centered on other religions. The violence is not troublesome , either, unless one expects their children to be in a position to carry red hot irons at home or school! I would hope that when exposing children to the many facets and experiences the world has to offer, we don't deprive them of wonderful books such as these simply to conform to a contemporary politically correct outlook.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Traditional Story and Artwork Jan. 20 2007
By J. Ireland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What a joy it was to read this book beside the fire with my friends and family. A unique and wonderful story of Christmas from a distant place in history.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!!!! May 18 2006
By An avid reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I love this book. Having lived and traveled in Norway, this book brought that special feeling of the lonely Hytter on the Fjell back. I am not a child but I still love the beautiful illustrations and historically accurate portrayals of medieval Norwegian life including the deep faith of the people.
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