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Book #2 of Skyhook World Classics!

The Songs of Power

A Northern Tale of Magic
Retold from the Kalevala

Book illustration

By Aaron Shepard

Cover art by Carol Schwartz

Not so long ago, in the tiny, isolated villages of Finland, where prolonged summer days gave way to endless winter nights, people would pass the time by singing the many adventures of their favorite heroes: the mighty, magical men and women of ancient days.

They sang of old Vainamoinen, greatest of sages and magicians, who helped create the world but never could find a woman to wed him. They sang of his friend and ally Ilmarinen, first among craftsmen, the blacksmith who forged the dome of the heavens.

They sang of Louhi, the ancient lady of Northland, whose crafty wit and magical powers made her a worthy opponent for Vainamoinen himself. And they sang of Aila, Louhi’s lovely daughter, who captured the hopes of the two old friends and drew them as rivals to the shores of Northland.

And while these songs could still be heard, there came along a rural doctor, a scholar, who gathered and wove them together in a book he called the Kalevala. And so he created for Finns a national epic, and for the rest of the world, a work of wonder.

The songs endure, the heroes live. . . .

Chapter book • Ages 10 & up

Aaron Shepard is the award-winning author of The Baker’s Dozen, The Sea King’s Daughter, The Monkey King, and many more children’s books, while his Web site is known internationally as a prime resource for folktales, storytelling, and reader’s theater. Once a professional storyteller, Aaron specializes in lively retellings of folktales and other traditional literature, which have won him honors from the American Library Association, the New York Public Library, the Bank Street College of Education, the National Council for the Social Studies, and the American Folklore Society.

Carol Schwartz is the award-winning illustrator of over 45 picture books.


You’re welcome to download a free digital copy of this book, if you’re an educator, librarian, bookseller, rights buyer, book reviewer, or anyone else needing to evaluate it professionally. To download now, just hit the link below. No personal info or approval is required.

The Songs of Power ARC
(PDF, 1 MB)

Skyhook Press

Hardcover ~ 2007

Paperback ~ 2007

Ebook ~ 2009

The following links may earn commissions for this site.

Book cover

An earlier version of this story is available as a picture book.


“Well written and valuable. . . . Shepard’s use of free verse allows him more flexibility than the traditional poetic meter. [The text] retains a sense of majestic rhythm and is most effective when read aloud. Supporting information is detailed.”—Donna L. Scanlon, School Library Journal, Apr. 1996 (reviewing an older edition)

“Shepard’s free verse telling has power and sparkle.”—Glenn Giffin, Denver Post, May 12, 1996 (reviewing an older edition)

“The language of Shepard’s story, the way [the characters’] magic is performed—all is bigger than life, as the mythic tale should be. It is a book to read aloud—to an older child, to an appreciative adult.”—Kate Frankel, Storyline, Winter 1997 (reviewing an older edition)

“The [free] verse reads aloud particularly well.—Notes from the Windowsill, Dec. 15, 1996 (reviewing an older edition)


“Shepard’s Skyhook World Classics series retells portions of epic narratives sure to pique kids’ interest. He cannily selects episodes likely to grab the attention of a wide range of middle-graders, [while] his storytelling voice varies to hint at the style of the original. These mini-novels would make fun classroom readalouds, too. No dumb-downs . . . Rated S for Snapped Up.”—S. C. Poe, Route 19 Writers

“What a wonderful way to expose and broaden the minds of our young people and adults. To be transported to another place and time. To experience stories that have lasted for centuries . . . These books have taken my grandsons away from their video and DVD games.”—Sandra Heptinstall, Whispering Winds Book Reviews

“Aaron Shepard does for folklore and epic poems what Charles and Mary Lamb did for Shakespeare in the 1800s—produces short, exciting, plot-centered adaptations that make the originals accessible to readers young and old, and that may tempt you to dip into the real thing someday.”—Susan Chapek

Sample Text

Vainamoinen chanted

and Joukahainen sank in the marshy ground,

up to his waist in the swallowing earth.

Cried Joukahainen,

“Reverse your words,

undo your spells!

I will give you a hat full of silver,

a helmet full of gold.”

“Keep your wealth,” said Vainamoinen.

“My coffers overflow.”

He chanted again,

and Joukahainen sank to his chest.

“Reverse your words,

undo your spells!

I will give you fields for plowing,

meadows for pasture.”

“Keep your land.

My farm stretches beyond sight.”

He chanted again,

and Joukahainen sank to his chin.

“Reverse your words,

undo your spells!

I will tell you of the fairest woman,

the finest maiden.”

Vainamoinen stopped his chant.

Sample text copyright © 1996, 2007 Aaron Shepard. Illustration copyright © 1996, 2007 Carol Schwartz.

An earlier version of this story is available as a picture book.

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