ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS is a short novel that Neil Gaiman wrote for World Book Day 2008 in the UK, which recently got a North American edition with illustrations by Brett Helquist. Apparently the original version had illustrations by Mark Buckingham, and while I have no problem with Helquist's work, I'd kind of like to see Buckingham's version. Oh, here's an example. And it looks like I can get a copy for 9 cents. Plus about 60 times that in postage...
This is Helquist's for the same chapter.
Anyway, this is the story of a young boy named Odd living in a village in Norway back in the days of the vikings. During a winter that seems to be lasting much longer than it should Odd meets three talking animals, who (spoiler alert) turn out to be the transformed versions of the major gods of Asgard, Odin, Thor and Loki, trapped in those forms after a Frost Giant took over Asgard.
Gaiman sure seems to like the Æsir, as this is at least the third time that he's used them in his work, after minor recurring bits in SANDMAN and a more major role in AMERICAN GODS. And a few years ago he was going to do some comics about what I consider the real Asgardian gods (the ones designed by Jack Kirby) with P. Craig Russell, though I guess that was called off quite a while ago.
Anyway, it's a cute little story, the short length avoids some of aspects of Gaiman's prose that I'm less fond of (and it is the classic Gaiman plot of a dissatisfied person in the real-world finding himself thrust into heroism in a separate magical world), but the lack of room for complexity removes some of the better aspects. Should be a pretty good for the intended younger audience, though I'd recommend THE GRAVEYARD BOOK and CORALINE before it from Gaiman's oeuvre.