The Last Viking Returns

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Tonya ‘Valkyrie’ McCusker launches The Last Viking Returns

TLVR launch 7

James and Norman with Malcolm, Tonya and Mary McCusker at the official launch


We had two launches for The Last Viking Returns this past week: a mini-launch at the fantastic Beaufort Street Books in Mount Lawley, then a big mammoth launch at the State Library. Tonya McCusker generously dressed up to launch our book with her daughter Mary ably assisting. Hit the jump for more photos.

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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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Roskilde Viking Museum

Roskilde Viking Museum

In my selfless, yet relentless search for the Viking vibe to keep my section of this blog reasonably interesting, last year I set off, entirely on your behalf of course, to visit the Viking Museum at Roskilde, about half an hour on the train from Copenhagen and located on the harbourside there, so I could tell you what it was like. 

IMG_4606Roskilde is a seriously historic place, being not only the  one-time capital of Denmark, but also burial place of many Viking kings. The Christian ones, at least. Before the Viking world deserted the Norse Gods and converted to Christianity, newly dead Viking kings would have been launched to sea on burning longships,  or buried in ship-shaped mounds along with their treasures and occasional slave girl to keep them company on their journey to Valhalla, the home of heroes.


Now days, Roskilde is a very pleasant town with stylish and expensive shops either side of a wide main street with countless bicycle racks, like most of Denmark.   You pass a lovely old cathedral that dominates the end of town, a helpful visitor centre nearby, and quaint houses, and a tree-lined walk through a park on your way down to the sea. The harbour is almost dwarfed  by a massive new glass  building of the museum off to one side, but before you get there, you immediately see a whole flotilla of menacing, but oh so beautiful, Viking longships in various sizes moored.


 I instantly felt some compassion for the monks of Lindisfarne Monastery who looked out one dreary morning and saw a host of ships just like these ones, full of big hairy men waving swords and axes while descending on their shore, ready to do really unspeakable things to them, like steal all their precious stuff, burn their books and poke them with swords or capture them as slaves.

On a related note, but interrupting my train of thought, did you know that back in 1000AD, at the height of Viking era, a good Viking sword was worth as much as a Ferrari or Aston Martin is now?


But back to Roskilde, there is a networks of jetties and on the bank nearby, several longships are under construction by craftsmen using original  techniques and traditional tools. The air rings to the sound of axes and adzes cutting into spruce and fir tree logs. It really does make you start to feel you are slipping back in time.

IMG_4485 A shed nearby is filled with rope making equipment, and a blacksmith works pumping his forge, the way blacksmiths have done for thousands of years,  to produce the metal fittings needed for the ships. The smell of the burning coke really adds to the authentic atmosphere, and nearly hides the smell of pickled herring that are for sale in the canteen not far away. Nearly.


 I had read before visiting that the boat builders at the museum offered daily sailing trips on one of the traditional, Nordic boats. Everyone participates actively with rowing, setting the sail and carrying out other sailors’ work. Unfortunately, like many events, you have to be there early,  and by the time we arrived the ship was booked out. “Røvpule!” I said in my best newly-learnt Danish. Disappointed, (I was, but I’m not so sure about Jan) we stood on the jetty and watched as all the wannabe Vikings got kitted up in life jackets, given health safety lessons and instructions on handling an oar before they set off rowing out into the harbour.


Unfortunately for them, precious little wind was blowing, so instead of using the sail to get out to sea, they had to row and row and row and row some more. Eventually, when their boat was a tiny speck  on the horizon, they did get to haul up the sail, but by that time most of them would have been well buggered. Or jumped overboard and drowned in relief. It looked like really, really hard work, and as most of them were obviously novice rowers, oars went in all directions. I was reminded a bit of an orchestra conductor’s  baton conducting the Ride of the Valkyries. Da dum dar dar dar dar. 


The main museum building itself has three impressive longships which had been discovered in the mud in the harbour only metres away from where they are now in display. It turns out they had originally been scuttled to block the harbour and prevent raiders landing and, again, doing unspeakable things to the inhabitants. Viking were not only beastly to English monks, but also to each other. It seems it didn’t much to upset a neighboring tribe and before you knew it, they were descending on your settlement with swords and axes on high with murder in mind.


The mud on the seafloor preserved much on the timber from the longships’ planks, and a thousand years later you can reach out and touch history, providing you ignore the Do Not Touch signs and the guards are not watching, of course. If they did see you, you would  probably score a battle-axe to the skull for your trouble. They take their Viking history very seriously in Scandinavia and even though the people  seem to be gentle, sophisticated souls these days, you have to remember that Viking DNA is still running through their veins.


Having then checked all that out especially for you, we then headed to the canteen for a lunch of fermented auk open sandwiches, followed  by boiled cod flavoured ice-cream, washed down with ten-year old mead, the Vikings’ normal drink. Auks are a bit like puffins and taste like chicken. (Yeah, right!)


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The Last Viking Returns – book trailer

Here’s your first proper look at The Last Viking Returns!

The book will be out on September 1.

Josh is as brave as a Viking warrior. And not much can scare a Viking. But when the two littlest Vikings go beserk, Josh, Grandpa and Viking World are in for a rocky ride. Here’s a sneak peek at the sequel to The Last Viking.

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Sneak Peek

Hello readers! We’ve been away for a bit. But Norm and I have been working on something new. Hopefully I’ll have a cover image to reveal in the next month.

In the meantime, here’s a section from one of my colour roughs. It should give you a little idea of what’s to come.



Onward to glory,


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Viking longship-builders in Murwillumbah

These incredible longships were handcrafted by Year 4 viklings at St Joseph’s Primary School in Murwillumbah.

Their teacher Deborah Walker has put in a huge effort. Thanks for bringing the book to life and encouraging the next generation of marauders!

Thanks also to the school’s library coordinator Melissa Fraser for sending the photos.

Melissa tells us the school is busting to read the sequel to The Last Viking. We’re working as quick as we can Melissa- I’ll get on to the artwork in the middle of next year, fingers crossed.

viking ships from St Joseph's Primary in Murwillumbah

viking ships from St Josephs Primary, Murwillumbah

viking ships from St Josephs Primary, Murwillumbah

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The kids’ votes are in – The Last Viking wins the 2012 Hoffman Award!


The Last Viking has won the Hoffman Award in the 2012 West Australian Young Readers’ Awards.

The Hoffman is awarded to the highest-ranked book by a West Australian creator (in this case, 2 creators!).

It sure is an honour to have kids pick and then vote for their favourite book. Thanks to all the WA young readers who voted, we couldn’t be happier.

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Studio Open Day- Sunday Nov 25, 2-5pm

My studio is in a Leederville complex called The Ward, and on Nov 25th we’re having an open day!

Come see where I work and what I’m working on next. I’ll have prints from ‘The Last Viking’ for sale too.

Plus you’ll get to meet all the other amazing artists here: filmmakers, photographers, illustrators, painters, textile workers… it will be awesome.

Come down and say hi! We’ll be open from 2-5pm.

More info at Artsource’s website.


Make-your-own Viking god or goddess

One of the best parts of school visits is seeing the great ideas that schoolkids come up with. Here’s a bunch of viking god and goddesses, designed by students during children’s book week this year. God of Wind, by Tom Isabella the Goddess of Patterns, by Maddy Bothgolong, God of Fire, by Rohan A portrait of Thor that also folds up into a paper plane, by Christian This guy looks familiar… The God of Literature, by Catherine And finally, Optimus Prime, by Brayden. It’s not a viking god but it looks really cool.