Alexander Rybak – Book review of “Trolle and the Magic Fiddle” in Dagbladet

Musicians seem to succeed better as writers of children’s books than many other celebrities. Alexander Rybak is no exception.

Vivid: The illustrations by Thomas Kirkeberg are dynamic and colourful and bring life to Alexander Rybak’s characters, the reviewer thinks. Illustration: from the book.

Troll in fiddle trouble.


Reviewed by: Maya Troberg Djuve,
Source: Dagbladet. Published 3.10.2015
Found and translated by Venche M. Revised by Anni Jowett

Alexander Rybak/Thomas Kirkeberg (ill.)


«Trolle and the Magic Fiddle»  terningkast5trolle cover

Cappelen Damm,  Age 4-12
A cosy time for reading.

It happens rather frequently: Cultural celebrities want to write a children’s book. Many fail. But it seems like one group of artists succeed most often; Musicians.

Jo Nesbø and Paul McCartney are among those who have written nicely for children. Maybe it’s about the musicality that can be transferred. Now violinist and fiddler Alexander Rybak makes a debut as a writer of children’s books, with the fairy-tale inspired “Trolle and the Magic Fiddle”. Here he appears as a warm and smart story teller who also masters the language as an “instrument”.

King on the rampage

The Troll called Trolle is a lonely guy. The other trolls harass him because he is different. Trolle doesn’t have a tail. One day he finds the fiddle of the sleeping Hulder King. When Trolls plays it, he gets power over the other trolls. With the fiddle he achieves both admiration and friendship.
But the happiness doesn’t last long. The other Trolls escape from Trolle and his enchanted fiddle. Trolle is alone again with the fiddle, which he can’t get rid of. His salvation is the human child Alva. She shows him the power of true friendship. He needs the power when the Hulder King awakes, furious because his fiddle is gone.


The story is inspired by Fairy-tales. Not in the form, it doesn’t follow the fairy-tale formulas like ‘Once upon a time there was’, repeating and the 3 times rule. The similarities are in the content. There are trolls, Hulder, magical items and trollish forests. Some kind of moral exists too: Don’t let yourself be enchanted by easy bought solutions. Trust in what’s real.
The story is easily told and easily read, split in short efficient chapters that often end with an exciting climax. That makes the book fine for reading aloud and for reading on your own. The illustrations of Thomas Kirkeberg are dynamic and colourful, and give life to Rybak’s characters. With the book there are also 3 CDs with an audiobook version of the story and newly composed music by Rybak.

Cosy time

Rybak helps himself rather freely with elements from well-known fairy-tale and newer fantasy. ‘Odin’s Children’ with their hero without a tail, the capricious ring from ‘Lord of the Rings’ and not the least “Veslefrikk with the Fiddle” seem to be sources of inspiration. As you know Veslefrikk also has a fiddle that bewitches its listeners.

Still the impression is that Rybak makes the stuff to his own. He forges an economic and action-packed story that balances the well-known against the new. “Trolle and the Magic Fiddle” offers an entertaining and cosy time for reading, and reminds us that “friendship is the strongest and most magical quality there is”.

“Rybak makes the material his own”

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