Help me find a book from my childhood about Trolls…
March 19, 2008 8:56 AM   Subscribe

Help me find a book from my childhood about Trolls…

I have very fond but dim memories of curling up on a blue bean bag chair in my elementary school library and devouring a book that dealt primarily with Trolls (the mythological, Norwegian/Scandinavian kind). This would have been in the early eighties in the USA.

I seem to recall the style and form factor of the book were both very similar to Wil Huygen’s Gnomes (around 12 x 8.5 inches) and remember the young me deriving enjoyment from the magnificent art within the book. In my trawling on google, I’ve discovered that artists contributing to the book could have easily been John Bauer and/or Theodor Kittelsen, or at the very least artists heavily influenced by their respective styles. The book was in English, contained a series of short-stories retelling legends surrounding Trolls, and I’m fairly certain that it wasn’t part of a series (like the Time-Life Enchanted World Series), although I suppose it could be.

Some of the trolls within the book were depicted as the typical hairy brutes with the bulbous, drippy red noses, like the one’s depicted here: [image link]. I’m fairly certain that this picture is from the Gnomes book mentioned above.

I’ve been looking on and off for information about this book for around two decades now, and would love to finally find it. Preemptive thank yous all around.
posted by ktrey to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
D'Aulaires' Book of Trolls?
posted by notbuddha at 9:22 AM on March 19, 2008

I think I remember this one, is The Troll Book by Michael Berentain?
posted by justkevin at 9:23 AM on March 19, 2008

If none of these pan out, the nice folks at Loganberry Books run a service that has matched thousands of inquiries like yours with their proper books. The service is two bucks, but that works out to a dime a year, since you've been looking for two decades.
posted by eaglehound at 10:19 AM on March 19, 2008

The Moomin Trolls?
posted by chococat at 10:30 AM on March 19, 2008

There's a larger illustration from the D'Aulaires' Book of Trolls here, and here's an image of the word "trolls" as it was distinctively written on the cover of the edition I had when I was a kid. I have a feeling that this is it.

(and yay, moomintrolls!)
posted by bubukaba at 10:32 AM on March 19, 2008

There are loads of trolls in Huygen's "Gnomes" -- I just checked my old childhood copy and there are a few troll illustrations throughout, a dedicated section on trolls toward the end (featuring some delightful troll-on-gnome torture illustrations), and two short stories about trolls (featuring this illustration). All are depicted as nasty, hairy things with drippy red noses.

Might you just be thinking of the troll-intensive parts of "Gnomes?"
posted by ecmendenhall at 12:08 PM on March 19, 2008

Response by poster: notbuddha & bubukaba: Thanks for the responses! Sadly, I don't believe that the D'Aulaires book is the one I remember. The art definitely had a much darker, sinister feel to it than some of the artwork I've seen in D'Aulaires books. (I did recognize the art from a copy of D'Aulaires Book Of Greek Myths I must've seen somewhere.)

eaglehound: Thanks for the tip! Sounds like an excellent service.

chococat: Thanks! Sadly, these trolls were mean and grumpy. Not nearly as cute as Moomin trolls.

justkevin: While the (very unique) cover doesn't jog any memories, from what I've read about the book it sounds like it could be a potential contender, or at least similar. The

ecmendenhall : You're absolutely right, they do have a pretty big section in "Gnomes" but I vividly remember receiving "Gnomes" later as a birthday present (well after the my fascination with mythological creatures had taken hold), and while it reminded me of the Troll book, I'm sure this mysterious Troll book only dealt with Trolls.
posted by ktrey at 1:05 PM on March 19, 2008

I had this same book as a child. I still have it, in fact, at my mother's house. It was a companion book to Gnome, and was simply titled Troll.

It detailed the lives, physiology, and society of trolls and snotgurgles.
posted by kaseijin at 1:07 PM on March 19, 2008

I stand corrected, mildly. I believe it may be the one by Bergh Eriksen, tilted Trolls and Their Relatives. I'd know for certain if I could find a photo of the cover, but my Google-fu is failing me. I did, however, turn up this illustration -- which rings definite bells. Who knows, though. Now I'm gonna have to dig through the boxes of books next time I visit my mother.
posted by kaseijin at 1:22 PM on March 19, 2008

Response by poster: kaseijin: I definitely recognize that illustration too, but I think it may have been from another library favorite of mine as a kid: The Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were. My googling isn't turning much up on the book you mention either, but I'm going to keep looking.
posted by ktrey at 1:46 PM on March 19, 2008

I think the artist may have been the same as for the Huygen book: Rien Poortlvliet. Not turning up much there, either, though.

Also - I found a cover of the Eriksen book. Not the one.
posted by kaseijin at 1:48 PM on March 19, 2008

I could swear that it was either called Troll or Trolls... and the cover was very similar to Gnomes. I had both books, and was too young for authors or illustrators to mean me, they were companion books.

This is gonna drive me nuts. I'll keep digging.
posted by kaseijin at 1:59 PM on March 19, 2008

My memories are similar to kaseijin's. I remember thinking that the Troll book and the Gnomes book were very closely related.
posted by aneel at 2:16 PM on March 19, 2008

Response by poster: kasseijin & aneel: The two books are almost inextricably linked in my mind too... I think it had to do with the quality of the artwork, and how different it was than the other children's books on the shelf.
posted by ktrey at 2:42 PM on March 19, 2008

Perhaps it was released by a different publisher, and so was sued out of existence? If nobody figures this one out, I'll dig for it next time I visit my mother. I am about 98% certain that my old copy of that is in one of the many boxes of books. (As well as my copy of the Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were...which, until this thread, I had forgotten about entirely.)
posted by kaseijin at 2:59 PM on March 19, 2008

There is a book called Trolls, published in 1981 - compiled and illustrated by Doug Cushman. His style typically seems brighter than the book in discussion, but he uses watercolors... and some of his sketches can veer into the proper look. The book is out of print, and I can't much find jack about it.

I wonder if it's the book...though I would have been 6 when it was released. Seems like I had it before that.
posted by kaseijin at 3:47 PM on March 19, 2008

Nope. Not it.
posted by kaseijin at 3:49 PM on March 19, 2008

Can you recap? It's definitely none of the books anyone's mentioned so far, right? That image you linked to, the one drawn by Rien Poortlvliet, is the exact one in the book you're looking for?
posted by iconomy at 3:58 PM on March 19, 2008

Response by poster: kaseijin: That one had potential. The publishing date in particular made it work for my time-line, but with the cover art you found, I'm pretty positive that it's not the book we're looking for. The art was much darker.

iconomy: Recap? Sure thing. So far I'm convinced that I didn't completely hallucinate this book. And kaseijin's descriptions have me thinking that we're undoubtedly on the same page with tracking it down. The image I linked to is definitely from the Gnomes book by Huygen, but it's the best visual representation I've found online for the type of Trolls the book dealt with.

More Troll fun here, courtesy of another mefi-member. Thank you for the lead, some of the additional images really got my mental gristle going! Unfortunately, I've drilled my way through the page, and so far no dice.
posted by ktrey at 6:45 PM on March 19, 2008

kaseijin mentioned so many books that I kind of don't know what you mean when you say you're both on the same page. Which page? Of which book? ;)
posted by iconomy at 8:18 AM on March 21, 2008

Response by poster: iconomy: This comment "I could swear that it was either called Troll or Trolls... and the cover was very similar to Gnomes. I had both books, and was too young for authors or illustrators to mean me, they were companion books." Leads me to believe that although none of the images or links to books so far has jogged my memory, kaseijin seems to be familiar with the book in question. As far as I recall, the two books were very similar, and in my memories of the book, it certainly seems that the Troll book was aping the Gnome book, perhaps intentionally. Right now, I'm using a combination of WorldCat and Google to track down more leads.
posted by ktrey at 6:26 AM on March 24, 2008

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