The Last Viking Returns

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Reviews for The Last Viking Returns

We’ve had a few more reviews filter through – one for The Last Viking Returns and a belated but very welcome one for The Last Viking.

The Last Viking coverTHE LAST VIKING

This is an intricately crafted picture book of the highest quality. A CBCA Notable Book in 2012, it manages to both entertain and inspire, while touching on issues ranging from childhood fears and bullying to the power of myth and storytelling. Josh’s creativity as he builds a Viking longship is a joy to behold. His bravery in the face of terror as he marches out to confront a pack of bullying children is formidable. And the way in which his problems are resolved is delightful.

There’s a lovely wry humour running throughout this book that will give parents a great deal of enjoyment too. And I absolutely loved the way the illustrations are allowed to tell entire chunks of the story. In fact, I pretty much loved everything about this book, which is why I can’t wait for the sequel due to be released this September.” –Anouska Jones, Kids’ Book Review


The Last Viking Returns - front coverTHE LAST VIKING RETURNS

A very humorous account of two worlds colliding: the mortal and the Viking Asgard.  Young Josh, alias Knut, must look after his younger twin siblings at the Viking theme park but Odin and the other Viking gods get caught up in the problem that occurs when the twins go berserk …

Not only is the simple story full of action but the full colour animated spreads further make this book an exciting adventure for the reader.  The front end paper brings the theme park alive with its keyed map while the back end paper offers a runic alphabet and code for the more advanced reader.  This landscape production will be a sure winner with young readers up to middle primary and perhaps beyond.” – John Cohen, the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Reading Time blog

The Last Viking Returns is out now!

Find it at your local bookshop or order it online.


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THE LAST VIKING RETURNS is a thrilling showdown

Here’s a fantastic review for The Last Viking Returns from today’s Weekend Australian (Review section, pg.22).


The Last Viking Returns is a sequel to one of our favourite books of 2012, the inspirational The Last Viking.

Author Norman Jorgensen and illustrator James Foley reacquaint us with young Josh (who, a braver boy now, calls himself Knut) and his little dog Wolverine (still wearing a colander helmet).

When Josh’s grandfather decides to take them to a Viking theme park for the day, the god Thor, watching from Asgard, decides to pop down to earth and join in the fun. “What could possibly go wrong?” he asks … The answer is Fafnir, “the most evil dragon imaginable”, who has been waiting for Thor to let his hair down.

The resulting showdown between boy, dog, god and fire-breathing beast is thrilling.

Thanks to Stephen Romei and his co-reviewer Syd for the review.


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First review for The Last Viking Returns

The Last Viking Returns was reviewed for the first time this morning! Here’s what ABC Radio Central Victoria had to say:

“Young Knut has to keep his twin siblings in check when he and his grandparents visit Viking World – a theme park like you’ve never seen before!

It’s full of detailed illustrations, runes to crack, lots of Viking references and a seemingly impossible villain to face – Fafnir the dragon. Sarah [Mayor Cox, children’s literature expert] says this is one of the most engaging books she’s seen in ages.

Young children will love it – it’s a good old fashioned romping adventure, which will have them gasping in anticipation of what will happen next.”

For the full audio, head to

And stay tuned to this blog and the facebook page – we’ll reveal the official book trailer for The Last Viking Returns next Tuesday afternoon!



The best book review ever written in the history of the world

I have a new favourite picture book! The Last Viking, written by Norman Jorgensen, and illustrated by James Foley, was published by Fremantle Press (2011).

Josh is very brave. He’s only a tiny bit afraid of the dark, ghosts, boy-eating dinosaurs, pirates, monsters, vampires… Hmmm, and of course going to Nan and Pop’s. In fact, he’s as brave as a lion. Sort of.

Luckily, Pop introduces Josh to the Vikings. Josh becomes Knut, and his imagination takes flight. He’ll need all that imagination, and bravery, and perhaps some Viking magic to cope with the neighbourhood bullies.

All kids have anxieties. Literature is a great way to show children they’re not alone in their fears, without preaching to them. I think Knut’s story makes an excellent choice for parents and teachers who want to remind children that we all have fears, and that sometimes feeling the fear and doing it anyway can have surprising results.

Jorgensen’s writing works on two levels, like that in all the great picture books. There’s the main story, satisfying and full of drama. And then there’s the subtext produced by the combination of his words and Foley’s pictures. Like when Knut, outside with sword upheld to a thunderous sky and lightning bolts, vanquishes his foes, while inside Pop asks after little Knut because there might be a storm. And when Nan, who just doesn’t get it, refers to the bullies as Josh’s new friends and wants them to come in for some cordial.

Some picture book partnerships seem to be a relationship made in Heaven – or should that be Valhalla? Jorgensen’s writing is beautifully complemented by Foley’s art. The drawings are cartoon in style, but there is a richness and texture to the whole illustration that makes the book a real visual delight.

There is lots of attention to detail in The Last Viking. I adore picture books that engage our attention over multiple re-readings, don’t you? Several page borders turn out to be not just decoration. Even the end papers fascinate, with more messages to decode and an alphabet-rune key. What fun to totally confuse older brothers and sisters by writing messages in runes!

Do check out the author and illustrator’s blog for teachers, students and aspiring authors, Knut the Last Viking. You’ll find a great Resources page with pictures to colour, as well as runes to solve.

After reading this book with your kids, they’ll love to create their own Longships, be they from rearranged furniture, cardboard or construction blocks. I love the emphasis in The Last Viking on the close relationship between literature and imaginative play – it fits perfectly into The Book Chook’s scheme of the Universe. The book also emphasises non-fiction – there is a whole page depicting the book Pop gives to Josh, Vikings:Pirates of the North. I also love the way Josh is so inspired by this book, that he enters fully into his role as Knut, Prince of the Vikings.

Kids might like to work out their own names in runes, and read more about vikings on the BBC website, which includes a Dig It Up game and teacher resource page. Try carving runes into clay, or plaster of paris, or decorating rocks or pebbles with runes. Your older children might like to read an interview with archaeologist, William Fitzhugh, who feels the viking’s sordid reputation wasn’t entirely warranted. No matter the age, it’s lots of fun learning to write in runes, and confusing those not in the know! Can you guess what words are in my runes above?

Fremantle Press have teacher notes available to support The Last Viking

the wonderful book trailer… succeeds in transmitting the flavour of the story without giving too much away – bravo!

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Review: Alphabet Soup magazine

Thanks to Rebecca Newman of Alphabet Soup magazine for the following review of The Last Viking.

If you don’t know anything about Vikings yet, you’ll know heaps about them by the time you finish The Last Viking. The illustrations are fun and cartoon-like and if you’re a super sleuth, you’ll notice that on some of the pages there are messages written in code—rune carvings. At the back of the book (on the endpapers) you’ll find the key to crack the code.

Keep an eye out for the ravens in the book, too. In Norse mythology they are Odin’s messengers, and in The Last Viking, they keep the Viking gods updated on Josh/Knut’s progress.

The Last Viking is an exciting adventure about courage, imagination and dealing with bullies.

Time to go a-viking!

You can read the whole thing here.


The Last Viking’s First Review

The first review appeared in the inboxes of Norman and I this morning…
The Last Viking scored 4 out of 5 stars and made the Top Picks list in the upcoming issue of Junior BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER.

“Norman Jorgensen’s writing and James Foley’s illustrations complement each other perfectly in this charming story about courage and imagination. As in all the best picture books, the words allow room for the cartoonish, expressive art to expand and deepen the story.

Keen readers can even decipher the runic inscriptions adorning the illustrations with the help of the decoder in the endpapers.

This is recommended fun for primary school readers.”

Heath Graham, educator, State Library of Victoria- reviewing for Junior BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER