Childrens Book Review of Stolen Thunder: A Norse Myth Retold by Shirley Climo and Alexander Koshkin

by DerdriuMarriner

Norse god Thor’s beloved thunder-making hammer gets stolen. His beloved Freya is demanded as ransom. Which -- if either -- must Thor decide is more important in “Stolen Thunder”?

Norse mythology logically appeals to northern European audiences. It indeed arises among ancient Germanic language-speaking cultures whose influences persist in such modern north European countries as:
• Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland;
• Belgium, Luxembourg;
• Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden;
• Netherlands.

But outside their traditional bio-geographical confines, they also find in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries an increasing popularity which is:
• Profitable for producers and publishers;
• Rewarding for book-readers and movie-goers.

Much of the new-found attractiveness of Norse mythology focuses upon the rivalrous adventures of:
• Loki, god of chaos, mischief, shape-shifting;
• Thor, god of lightning, oak (Quercus spp) trees, storms, thunder.

One of the most humorous incidents in that on-again, off-again competition involves the “Stolen Thunder” from Thor’s mountain-leveler going missing.


In memory of Shirley Climo (1928 - August 25, 2012)


Thor with Mjölnir, his fearsome, short-handled hammer

Mariatorget ("Maria Square"), Södermalm, Stockholm, southeastern Sweden
Mariatorget ("Maria Square"), Södermalm, Stockholm, southeastern Sweden


Those who specialize in the ultimate origins of words disagree on the original meaning and source of the Norse mythological designation Mjölnir. Does the ancient derivation of its multiple spellings translate into English as “hammer,” “lightning,” “lightning-bolt,” “stone tool,” or “thunderbolt”? Whatever the primal etymology, the name gathers all of the above-mentioned meanings together for the Norse thunder god Thor and his short-handled hammer. Thor indeed identifies as responsible for his super-strength the combined accessibility of:

  • Járngreipr (iron gloves);
  • Megingjörð (power-belt);
  • Mjölnir.

He knows that Mjölnir exists because of Loki’s challenging the dwarves Brokkr and Sindri to rival the Sons of Ivaldi’s inventions of:

  • Gungnir (spear) for all-father god Odin;
  • Skíðblaðnir (foldable boat) for fertility god Freyr.


Loki, an enigmatic trickster in Norse mythology, enjoys making mischief to disturb Thor.

Image, from 18th century Iceland manuscript, "SÁM 66," turned, cropped and colour-corrected with The GIMP Version 1.2.3.
Image, from 18th century Iceland manuscript, "SÁM 66," turned, cropped and colour-corrected with The GIMP Version 1.2.3.


So Thor quickly blames Loki when Mjölnir goes missing. Loki can be counted on to play games with the truth. But he dislikes being accused of a monumental theft for which another is the perpetrator and he is not a beneficiary. He follows the thunderous hammer’s trail to Asgard’s envious enemy, Jotunheim’s King of the Frost Giants. He gets Thrym to agree to exchange Mjölnir for Freya, Asgard’s goddess of beauty and love. The transfer has to be made at Freya’s and Thrym’s wedding celebrations. Thrym is so awed by Freya’s blonde tresses and muscular shoulders that he produces as a wedding gift Mjölnir. Clean-shaven Thor then stops his Freya imitation. He strikes Thrym with a thunderbolt.


Mountainous area of Jotunheimen ("Home of the Giants") derives name from Norse mythology's Jötunheimr, homeland of Frost and Rock Giants, menacers of gods in Asgard:

View from Knutshøi towards central Jotunheimen
Scandinavian mountains, Sogn og Fjordane and Oppland counties, southern Norway
Scandinavian mountains, Sogn og Fjordane and Oppland counties, southern Norway



Stolen Thunder: A Norse Myth benefits from the experience and expertise of:

  • Clarion Books, as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers imprint of fiction, non-fiction, and picture books for children and young adults, from infancy through grade 12;
  • Shirley Beistle Climo (1928 - 2012), as reteller;
  • Alexander Koshkin (born 1952), as illustrator.

The acrylic, gouache, tempera, and watercolor artwork of the Russian-born artist blend as beautifully in this 1994-released publication with its charmingly humorous retelling by the Ohio-born author as they do in the duo’s Atalanta’s Race by the same publishing company and of the same publishing date. The myth’s update cooperates with cultural enrichment-, educational entertainment-seeking readers:

  • Aged 8 – 12+;
  • Grades third through seventh grade.


Stolen Thunder: A Norse Myth by Shirley Climo ~ illustrated by Alexander Koshkin

Retells with drama and humor the Norse myth about the God of Thunder and how he recovers his magic hammer, Mjolnir, from the Frost Giant, Thrym.
Shirley Climo retellings



My special thanks to:

  • Talented photographers and concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


The stealing of Thor's hammer, depicted in "Stolen Thunder," is one of many challenges to Thor by Jötnar, race of giants in Norse mythology ~

Tors strid med jättarna ("Tor's Fight with the Giants"): painting by Mårten Eskil Winge (September 21, 1825 – April 22, 1896)
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, southeastern Sweden
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, southeastern Sweden

Sources Consulted


Climo, Shirley. 1994. Stolen Thunder: A Norse Myth. Illustrated by Alexander Koshkin. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company’s Clarion Books imprint.

Ridgeway, Eliza. 5 September 2012. “Shirley Climo: Author Enchanted Generations.” Los Altos Town Crier: People > Sections > Obituaries. Retrieved December 16, 2014.

  • Available at:


Hammer-wielding Thor is a familiar figure from Norse mythology:

ca. 1000 AD bronze statue of Thor
National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik, southwestern Iceland
National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik, southwestern Iceland
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Sound of Thunder: black t-shirt ~ Available via AllPosters

Sound of Thunder
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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 12/16/2014, DerdriuMarriner
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