Title: Sticks Across the Chimney
Author: Nora Burglon
Major Themes: Vikings, Archaeology, Scandinavia, Denmark
Synopsis: Erik and Siri do their best to help their mother make a living for the family on their small farm in Denmark, and then help their grandfather excavate the Viking burial mound on the farm, despite the harassment of the local Postmaster and his son.
We have spent a few enjoyable weeks reading Sticks Across the Chimney together. Over and over, I was begged for more after I finished reading the passage scheduled for the day, and over and over I said no, we were going to stick to the schedule and not read extra! Well, yesterday I decided we’d read the last two chapters, rather than wait till after the weekend, and we’ve finally finished this lovely story.
In the beginning of the story, Siri and Erik are trying to figure out how they can go to the Spring Fair, with no money for entrance and no exhibit. Mother gives them an idea for an exhibit, and they work very hard to ready it for the school competition—but someone else’s exhibit is chosen instead. They decide to go anyway, and try to sell the little wooden figures they carved and painted. After a difficult trip across the water, and nearly drowning in a sudden storm, they reach the Fair, and a chain of events is set off which ends in Grandfather coming to open the Viking Mound on the farm they had been able to buy cheaply because everyone thought it was haunted.
The story line is very simple, but sweet. Many little tidbits of information about Scandinavia, and especially Denmark, are scattered naturally through the book. There is also an unforgettable description of Viking customs as the burial mound is excavated. Sticks Across the Chimney would be a great story to accompany a study of Vikings, archaeology, Scandinavia, or even farm life!
WARNING: In chapter 9, a workman tells a lie. In chapter 7, a watchman shoots his gun toward a night prowler.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12