2016 is really shaping up to be a great year for animation. We've already had the wonderful Disney features Zootopia and the highly anticipated sequel Finding Dory, Illumination's Secret Life of Pets has been doing extremely well since its release, the underdog Kubo and the Two Strings has swept up audiences with its unique animation style and original storyline, and the year isn't over yet. We've still got Disney's new princess movie Moana coming in November, Sony's STORKS being released on September 23rd, Illumination's second film of the year with Sing, and of course the highly anticipated DreamWorks picture Trolls.
Coming in early November, Trolls finds inspiration in a rather unlikely place: a late 20th century pop cultural phenomenon. What exactly is this surprising inspiration?
Toy Line Of Troll Dolls
If you were a kid sometime between 1960 and 2000 (which I assume the majority of readers were), then you have seen one of these adorable dolls at some point in your life. Chances are likely you even owned one. Designed by Danish woodcutter Thomas Dam in 1959, the concept is pretty simple: make a little doll, give it a "that's so ugly it's cute" face, and slap on some colorful hair. Troll Dolls had hair that came in nearly every color imaginable, and collecting them until you had a beautiful rainbow was all the rage.
In preparation for the upcoming film, I would suggest you find your collection of Troll Dolls (probably located somewhere in your basement), gather some reading material (don't worry, it's pretty light), and awaken that nostalgic feeling that will make you say "Man, I really want to go see 'Trolls!'"
But just because Trolls isn't based on a book, doesn't mean there aren't plenty of books to read in anticipation for the animated flick. Below are the six greatest children's books you should be reading right now.
1. The Moomins
- Author and Illustrator: Tove Jansson
- Publication dates: 1945-1993
When you picture trolls, cute hippo-like creatures probably don't come to mind. However, believe it or not these adorable critters are in fact Finnish trolls. Moomins never really made it big in the U.S., but they were a cultural phenomenon in Europe and Japan. With nine books, five picture books, a comic strip, several movies and television series, live theater shows, and even their own theme park, Moomins are massive. Unfortunately, the Moomins never saw quite that level of fame in the United States, but many of the books and shows have been translated to English for your enjoyment!
2. The Trolls
- Author: Polly Horvath
- Publication date: 1999
Here's the Amazon summary of The Trolls: "Aunt Sally is beyond any of Melissa, Amanda, and Pee Wee's expectations. She has come all the way from Vancouver Island, Canada, to take care of the children while their parents are away, and right from the start, Aunt Sally enchants them with tales of her childhood with their father. Odd characters figure largely in the stories, like Maud, a hunter rumored to have killed eighty cougars; Great-uncle Louis, a health nut who insists everyone should gnaw on sticks for extra fiber; and Fat Little Mean Girl, the star of a cautionary tale involving witchcraft and candy. All of Aunt Sally's reminiscences lead up to a crucial story about trolls, sinister creatures who supposedly lurked along the shore at night. The trolls had the power to change Aunt Sally's life forever, and their legacy may change the lives of the three present-day children as well."
3. D'Aulaires' Book of Trolls
- Authors and Illustrators: Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
- Publication date: 1972
The husband and wife duo Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire spent decades creating children's books. Their early work focused on the scenery and folk tales of Norway, but once they moved to the United States they started creating books detailing the feats of American heroes. Their book about trolls was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1973 and was on New York Times' Book Review as one of the outstanding books of the year. The book is currently in print, but is now known simply as d'Aulaire's Trolls.
4. Trouble With Trolls
- Author and Illustrator: Jan Brett
- Publication date: 1992
Once again, allow the Amazon summary to, uh, well, summarize it: "Treva's trouble with trolls begins when she climbs Mount Baldy with her dog Tuffi. The trolls who live there long for a dog, and they try to kidnap him. But Treva is brave and quick-thinking. She outwits one troll after another until she reaches the very top of the mountain, where five trolls are waiting--and they want her dog! From underground to mountain peak, Jan Brett's story is filled with adventure and eye-catching detail."
Upon looking for children's books about trolls, I came across this little gem and instantly recognized it as a book I remember reading as a youngling. It's kinda frightening at times (at least for young children) as the trolls kidnap the dog, and if memory serves, attempt to eat it. Unlike the Moomins, this book certainly shows the dark side of trolls.
5. The Troll Book
- Author and Illustrator: Mike Berenstain
- Publication date: 1980
Written and illustrated by the genius mind behind the Berenstain Bears, The Troll Book shares a similar artistic style as the Berenstain Bears, but instead of lovable bears, the book follows a group of trolls. It's actually a collection of stories, as well as descriptions of their ways of life, their habits, their homes, and so much more. Every question you could possibly have about trolls is probably answered within the beautiful pages of The Troll Book.
6. The Three Billy Goats Gruff
- Author and Illustrator: Paul Gadone
- Publication date: 1989
Ah, yet another wonderful book I fondly remember from my own childhood. The story takes the typical "troll who lives under a bridge" and adds a fun little twist. Based on a Norwegian fairy tale first published in the mid-1800s, The Three Billy Goats Gruff is a fun read for anybody! In the story, three billy goats want to cross the bridge because they are hungry for some grass and daisies. Unfortunately, the bridge is guarded by a troll who wants to eat the goats. The three goats have to undergo a battle of wits with the grumpy troll and well, I'll let you figure out the ending for yourself.
As you can see, over the years trolls have taken many different sizes and shapes. Some are nice and some are mean. The same thing can be said for DreamWorks' Trolls, where the trolls all have unique features and personalities. Although the movie is based on the one specific toy line, I wouldn't be too surprised if we find elements of the stories included in the film.