A few nights ago, doing math homework with Jack the Second Grader inspired a post about telling stories using multiple devices, such as the facts themselves, testimonials, pictures, and more. And now, tonight, Jack brought home a book to read to me, “Nate the Great Saves the King of Sweden,” by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. I thought it very ironic that a central theme of this book involved the folklore of Nordic trolls, since last week I wrote about Internet Trolls.
In the book, a boy named Nate helps solve a mystery for a classmate about a toy troll she lost while on vacation in Scandinavia. In a special section at the end of the book, Sharmat does a good job elaborating on several topics that were part of the fun little story, including Sweden’s royalty,the countries that make up Scandinavia, what goes into a smorgasbord, and the folklore of Nordic trolls.
Here are some excellent “facts” about trolls that I learned today by helping Jack the Second Grader do his homework. According to the book, some trolls were big, others were smallish, but all were ugly. They have big noses, tough skin, large feet, and messy hair. They also have tails. They hear well, but their eyesight is limited. Their sense of smell is keen.
They have a habit of hanging out under bridges to pester those passing over, either demanding tolls or asking travelers to answer riddles. Of course, this was documented well in the Three Billy Goats Gruff fairy tale told to children for centuries. I had believed it was this habit of haranguing all who went over the bridge that eventually led to the internet term, but I guess that was only part of its origins. The art of “trolling” when fishing also is being alluded to with the internet term. As in, trolling for suckers.
A final fact about trolls is that, when exposed to light, they turn to stone or explode. Hmmm…. OK, that’s enough enlightenment from the pages of second-grade literature.