Blog tour: ‘The Viking Who Liked Icing,’ by Lu Fraser, illustrated by Mark McKinley.

It’s my turn to shout about ‘The Viking Who Liked Icing’ and to share with you a special piece by author Lu Fraser about the inspiration behind the story of a young Viking boy who loved to bake.

“Nut isn’t like the other vikings; he doesn’t climb hills or swim icy lakes . but he does have one great passion – Nut LOVES to bake cakes! So when Viking Sports’ Day comes round, it looks like certain disaster for Nut. Can his baking SAVE THE DAY?”

Before I share my thoughts on the book, let’s hear from Lu about how a baking Viking boy called Nut came to be:

‘Slicing, Dicing & Really Pink Icing!’

The story behind ‘The Viking Who Liked Icing,’ written by Lu Fraser and illustrated by Mark McKinley

I was freezing – there was rain dripping down my neck, the wind had found every gap in my jacket and was whistling through my woolly jumper and my shoes were leaking. ‘How did the Vikings manage?’ I muttered to myself, as I braced my shoulders against the Danish Autumn weather…and that was where the seed of The Viking Who Liked Icing took root. Yes, Vikings had a reputation for resilience and toughness but, what if you weren’t like all the other Vikings? What if you found the swords and the weather a bit of a challenge? What if your heart (and your talent) lay somewhere else instead? Somewhere very UN-Viking? Like icing cakes? By the time I’d returned to England my busy life took over again and the idea faded away. I wasn’t writing much at the time, had no plans of trying to find an agent again or ever being published. My stories were just for me…

Fast forward three years and everything had changed! I had an agent, I had a publisher and three of my stories were already being turned into real, no-longer-just-in-my-head books! Now…what was I going to write about for my fourth story? Maybe something for my goddaughter, Izobelle, the girl who LOVED to bake? And then it came back to me – that moment standing in the rain in Denmark, wondering what life would be like for a Viking who was a little bit different…

When I created the story, I did have a bit of a surprise on the opening pages, to be honest: I thought this was a story about a little Viking boy but, much to my amusement, his sister elbowed her way in, too, and I couldn’t get her to leave! One thing I did have a say in though, were their names – I wanted both of them to have real Viking roots so, when I came across Cnut and Leif in my research, I thought how lovely it would be if they were simplified to Nut and Leaf – two (very different!) branches of the same family tree. I didn’t have a title, so I simply called it The Viking Who Liked Icing and, not long after, my publisher, Bloomsbury, signed it as my next text and fantastic debut illustrator Mark McKinley was appointed.

And as it turned out, the title made everyone smile so much I couldn’t quite bring myself to change it…!

I loved this book! It absolutely did make me smile. I could empathise with Nut and his dread of Viking Sports Day – and I’m sure plenty of children reading along will do too. We don’t all excel at horn throwing or rowing, but we DO all have a special talent which we need to embrace. And that’s exactly what this book celebrates – being yourself and being proud. A brilliant message for everyone.

The bouncy rhyming text, humour-filled illustrations, and celebratory feel make ‘The Viking Who Liked Icing’ the perfect read-aloud.

Library Girl.

*Many thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*

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