Sigurd & the Tree of Life
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.
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