Winter Troll: A Bedtime Story for Kids 7 to 117

Kurt Petersen (Author); Sarah Stankey (Illustrator)
Outskirts Press (2021)
ISBN: 9781977242075
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (01/2022)

The location of the Wisconsin woods is a beautiful backdrop for this tale, one that the illustrator definitely does justice to with her drawings. This is also a book that fits its subtitle perfectly, because this is a laid-back, pleasant tale that readers of all ages (over 6) will have a lot of fun reading. (Personally, however, I really like this one in the hands of an adult who loves sarcasm. Not only can you clarify things in the book for younger readers but also because these characters have a dry sense of humor at times that really makes you laugh out loud.)

You see, Kurt found himself a cabin in the woods. It was literally his dream house, and he couldn’t wait to move in. Once he did so, he started to dig holes in his garden every day and plant flowers. Sometimes the plants thrived, other times not so much, but he found out that he loved gardening. One day, however, he came across an odd blue mask that was stuck in the ground. He thought it was kind of cool, so he left it there. Unfortunately, when the first frost came, he went outside to find the mask had disappeared and only a big hole was left behind. He was a bit frustrated because he’d have to fill in the big hole when spring came. But once it snowed, he didn’t think about it for a while.

When spring finally arrived, the mask was back, no hole left to fill, and Kurt was confused. But then readers get to meet Sadie, the cat, who for some reason likes the mask and every time her owner claims he’s going to take it out of the ground and throw it out, the cat gets furious. (She has claws, you know.) As the seasons go by, Sadie keeps an eye on Kurt to make sure he leaves the mask alone.

As readers must figure out why this mask does, or makes others do, some odd things, we meet other characters—from Old Man Dirt to Kurt’s next-door-neighbor, from the Old People to the Keeper of the Forest, and many more. The story is a truly fun ride and no one will be left unsatisfied by the entertaining tale of this mask. Based on an actual clay mask the author found while working as a garbage man for the City of Madison, Kurt Petersen utilizes a creative mind to create this book that’s absolutely memorable. In addition, Sarah Stankey jumps on board and brings the pictures to life, which just adds to its substance.

This is definitely one of those great “read-out-loud” books, because all members of the family will enjoy this adventure. All we can hope is that Kurt and his friends catch on so we can see some other interesting journeys they take!

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