Sunday, February 26, 2023

MMGM: Fenris and Mott, by Greg Van Eekhout, and Freddie vs the Family Curse, by Tracy Badua

Here are another couple of books from the Cybils Middle-grade Spec Fic shortlist that I can highly recommend. 

Fenris & Mott is a funny and thought-provoking take on the Norse idea of Ragnarok.

What if Fenris, the wolf in Norse mythology who will consume the world during Ragnarok, was discovered as a little starving wolf-pup in a back-alley in California?

Mott is the highly-engaging character who finds Fenris and really, really wants to adopt him, even though she knows she can't. She vows to keep him safe, despite the mundane and mythical obstacles that spring up at every turn. Various characters from Norse mythology show up, either wanting to kill Fenris to prevent Ragnarok, or set him free to begin it. But Mott cares about Fenris himself. Her single-minded devotion forges a path through the middle of all the prophecies: is it possible to save Fenris and save the world, too? The combination of Mott's compassion, integrity and wry humour with Fenris's adorable puppy nature is irresistible. And Van Eekhout throws in some pointed metaphors about climate change and human shortsightedness as the vehicles for the end of the world, with the empowering message that kids still have a choice and can make a difference.

Freddie vs the Family Curse is a very funny and relatable story about a boy whose notorious bad luck and clumsiness aren't his fault: he's been cursed!

If anything can go wrong for Freddie, it definitely will, leading to all sorts of slapstick and embarrassing scenarios. Freddie isn't a victim, however, and he has a staunch supporter in his cousin, who at least understands about the family curse. When Freddie discovers an amulet inhabited by the spirit of his great-uncle, he learns the origin of the curse and how to break it. This leads to more shenanigans, including a road-trip to a break-dancing competition—nothing could possibly go wrong with that!  All along Freddie is a character with a great deal of agency and cleverness in dealing with his problems.

The best part about this book is Freddie's family and the rich representation of Filipino culture. I loved that everyone in the family has a different attitude toward the idea of the curse, and toward religion and superstition in general. I loved how everyone cares deeply about each other but that doesn't prevent conflict and frustration. Freddie's great-grandmother is a wonderful character, and the glimpses we get into Filipino history are rewarding.


  1. Both novels really sound fascinating. I don't know what Ragnarok is/means. Don't know a lot about Norse mythology. I imagine animal lovers will enjoy. And, I really like Freddie's awkward curse. I do enjoy Filipino history, so this book that includes family grabs my attention. Really great shares today!

    1. Ragnarok is the prophesied end of the world in Norse mythology. I don't know much else about it, despite watching the Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok!

  2. I enjoyed both of these books and gave my copies to some eager young readers who also liked them. Great characters and stories in both. Happy MMGM!

  3. These both sound good. I don't know much about Norse mythology, but it sure has become popular. And a family curse is a great idea for a kids book. I'll put these on my list. Thanks for the post.

  4. I especially like the sound of the second one -- it's great to see a grandmother with a strong (and also humorous by the sound of it) role in a story.