Sigurd & the Tree of
This was my first ever children's
book published in English. It draws visually on the Scandinavian
“tomtenissar” (Santa’s elves) that are so popular as decorations
over the Christmas season.
But there’s nothing Christmasy about Sigurd and the Tree of
Life, as it’s a tale that involves the last wizard on Earth
searching out the tree of life before a poison that’s been fed into
its roots kills it, and with it all of life in the world.
The book, aimed at children that
are between eight and twelve years old, came into being when I was
testing some new pends I'd just bought and drew a picture of the
traditional “tomtenisse”, lamp in hand, looking out at the reader.
The “tomtenissar’s” faces are usually hidden behind long hats and
very long beards, with the nose peeking out. I've stuck to
this depiction of my characters, going for a puppet-like rendering
of figures, populating the bare forests of the cold north.
In fact, Sigurd lives on the edge
of one such forest, and is visited by the spirit of an ancient
wizard who tells him of the danger to the tree of life. The rest of
the book is Sigurd’s dangerous quest (with evil wizards creating
huge obstacles in his way) to save the tree.
There are quite obvious hints to
ecology and the way the environment is slowly being corroded by
those who are too selfish to think of the future (I'm obsessed with
that), but this is a
subtle, understood message in a story that creates a world full of
wonders, dangers and a quest that needs to succeed.
Sigurd and the Tree of Life was
published in hardback by David Bezzina's Horizons, after being
discovered by their children's line editor (and dear old friend)
Victor Fenech. I've illustrated it with nineteen
full colour drawings. It came out in November of 2016.
The cover and two of the
illustrations are reproduced here.