Known as the "troll lady" in Minnesota where she lives, Lunge-Larsen mines her Norwegian heritage in this collection of nine stories. The title story and the "Three Billy Goats Gruff" will be familiar to many children, and eager youngsters will probably recognize or immediately grasp many elements in the other stories. Short introductions, a bibliography, and source notes supplement a nice collection of troll lore and expand on the tales: Trolls are giant creatures, often with multiple heads, and it is easy to outsmart them if you listen carefully and keep your own wits about you; if you look closely, you can find troll remains in old and gnarled tree roots. Beautifully colored woodcuts, contributed by Betsy Bowen, render troll, landscape, pattern, and hero in muscular, elegant design. The stories read aloud well, and each ends with a traditional Norwegian trope: "Snip, snap, snout, / This tale's told out!" Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
"With notes as rich as the tales, Norwegian native Lunge-Larsen traverses the landscape of the troll story, beginning with "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" and ending with what amounts to a troll knock-knock joke, "Trolls Shouting." In between come eight tales alike only in their suitability for rambunctious reading-aloud: these trolls are not only big, they're loud, and Lunge-Larsen's retellings honor the oral spirit of their origins. Some, such as the title story, are quest tales in which the protagonist, often a youth, must outwit the troll to save the princess. In others, such as "Butterball," a child has to figure out a way to avoid becoming a troll's next meal. In all, good triumphs, and the troll ends up thoroughly, satisfyingly dead. Bowen's woodcuts, strong in line and rustic in flavor, hew to the boldness of the stories; her trolls are rough ugly fellows (and the occasional troll-mama) who look to be carved and colored out of the earth itself. Which, according to the storyteller's introduction, they were, and they "return to and shape the landscape around them when they die." She suggests that after listening to these stories, children may want to take a closer look at an oddly shaped rock or an overturned tree." Horn Book
Not surprisingly, trolls come off second best in all but one of these nine stories. ‘‘The Boy Who Became A Lion, a Falcon, and an Ant'' turns three monsters into rubble; ‘‘The Boy and the North Wind'' give a thieving troll-hag a proper comeuppance; in the title story a young prince finds a troll's heart in an unlikely place; and everyone knows what happens to the menacing bridge-dweller in ‘‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff.'' In the one exception, ‘‘The Handshake,'' three trolls greet a stray horse's owner with a prank, but part on friendly terms with man and animal. Bowen draws inspiration from Norwegian folk art for her polychrome woodcuts, emphasizing silhouettes and giving her long-nosed trolls a properly dimwitted, disheveled look. Lunge-Larsen notes both her printed sources and any changes she's made, adding an essay on the stories' significance for young listeners. It's an appealing collection: varied but not too long, spiced with danger, heroism, humorous moments, and violence that's toned (not watered) down.