The Viking Who Liked Icing has all the ingredients for a future classic. Combine wonderful characters, a meaningful story, masterful rhyming and gorgeous illustrations, sprinkle with humour, and you’re left with an incredibly sweet book with a potent message. This delectable tale encourages little readers to be themselves, celebrate their differences instead of trying to fit in, recognise their talents and follow their hearts.
Nut and his sister Leaf couldn’t have less in common. While Leaf excels at outdoor activities more typically associated with Vikings, Nut prefers to get creative in the kitchen and is passionate about baking. At the annual sports day, Nut feels like a failure – will his unique skills ever be appreciated?
My kids and I adore this story. It’s such a wonderful lesson in staying true to who you are and resisting pressure to conform, and it’s brilliant how it challenges gender stereotypes too. Both the four-year-old and the six-year-old were captivated as soon as the book was opened. The first time I read the line, ‘For happiness comes when you just … be yourself,’ the youngest shouted ‘yourself!’ before I got to that word.
The illustrations are amazing and so funny, with an attractive colour palette and lots of clever and amusing details on every page. This must win the record for most Viking hats in a book, whether adorning the tops of tiny buns to being used as chairs – they're everywhere. Nut’s alternate uses for his helmets are hilarious; he repurposes them as mixing bowls and hanging baskets. The mischievous squirrels making off with chocolate covered fruit at the banquet are priceless, as are the sea monsters lurking in the background.
My girls love to gaze at the delectable confections baked by Nut and discuss their favourites. They howl with laughter when Nut’s arrow lands somewhere it shouldn’t. When we sat down with the book for the second time, they were delighted to spot the unfortunate Erikson way off in the distance on page one. Although this stole our heart immediately, we have enjoyed it even more on subsequent readings. Lu Fraser makes rhyming look like a piece of cake! Her flawless lyrical text flows apparently effortlessly and is perfectly complemented by Mark McKinley's amazing illustrations. If you have an appetite for exceptional picture books, this one is definitely for you!
The Viking Who Liked Icing is published by Bloomsbury on Thursday 5th August. There’s a fantastic FREE downloadable activity pack with lots to keep kids busy, including a recipe for buns which we hope to try soon. We were thrilled to join the blog tour for this sensational story and discover award-winning author Lu Fraser’s top five feel-good picture books. See them all and find out why Lu is so fond of each one…
Lu Fraser’s Top Five ‘Feel-Good’ Picture Books
For me, a ‘feel-good’ picture book is one that makes me smile whenever I pick it up. Not only because of its brilliant content, but because it’s an integral part of my memories, interwoven with recollections of my family and friends as well. Reading one of these books can transport me back to a long-gone point in my life. And, as with all great ‘feel-good’ books, when I turn the final pages, I am left feeling that little bit lighter, brighter and bolder than before…
Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton Almost two decades ago, I packed my toddler on to a plane and flew halfway around the world to join my husband who was working abroad. Jet-lagged and grumpy, I came across this wonderful story as I was pushing the buggy around a bookshop. It remains my favourite picture book of all time – succinct, wry, original, unique – I have gifted it more times than I could possibly count!
Du Iz Tak? by Carlson Ellis Sublime illustrations, a daring concept and completely unlike anything else on my shelves, this book has always been a wonder to me. I am engrossed from the opening spread – its power is strangely cumulative the more it’s read, and I get something new from it every single time. By the time I close it, I am in awe of the power and magic of a good picture book. Unexpectedly calming, always reassuring and utterly tremendous.
The Runaway Pea by Kjartan Poskitt and Alex Willmore The first time I read this, I was blown away – a brilliant story that rhymes fantastically with hilarious illustrations, plus it made me laugh out loud. What more could you want?! Whenever I feel a bit glum, I just have to pick this up and it instantly makes me happy!
Click, Clack, Moo – Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsey Lewin There’s a tongue-in-cheek, slightly irreverent dry humour in this book which appeals to me hugely! Coupled with the wonderful illustrations, it’s one of those rare things – a book I can read again… and again… and again… without ever tiring of it. Nearly two decades on and I still smile when I see it on a bookshelf.
Mopoke by Philip Bunting I only came across this book recently and I roared with laughter when I first read it. It’s just a little bit bonkers and never fails to bring an instant smile to my face! The illustrations alone make me chuckle! The perfect example of how to achieve maximum effect with minimum words. Faultless!
A huge thanks to Lu for sharing her top five feel-good picture books with us. We only have two of these (Hippos Go Berserk! and Click, Clack, Moo), so the rest have gone straight on to our ever-expanding wishlist. We're also enormously grateful to Lu and Bloomsbury for inviting us on this tour and for our gift of this gorgeous book and some delicious icing too! All opinions expressed are our own. Make sure you visit the rest of the stops to find out more about this wonderful book and its inspiration as well as Lu's thoughts on picture books: