My Father’s Arms Are a BoatBOATS
Stein Erik Lunde

Illustrated by Øyvind Torseter
Translated by Kari Dickson

Published in Norway in 2008 and translated into English in 2013, this lovely, simple tale of a young boy unable to sleep on a cold winter’s night is so much more than first appears. Seeking the comfort of his father’s arms when the cold and his restless mind keep him awake, the two venture out into the frigid night, and he begins to question his father about where the birds will sleep when the old spruce tree is cut down, what the redbirds will they do if the fox eats their breakfast, and why mother will never wake up again. His father’s calm answers assure him. The two watch for a shooting star so they can make a wish, “But you can’t tell anyone what it is.” When it comes, the boy wonders if they wished for the same thing, and if they did, would it make it more apt to come true? But we never learn what the wish is; we don’t need to.

Øyvind Torseter’s illustrations are both drawn and three-dimensional, sparse and simple, yet they feel incredibly intimate and achingly tender. This is an extraordinary picture book, appropriate for children ages 4 and up (according to the publisher; I would say that it would be appropriate for any age), but I daresay adults will get just as much out of it as the children will; perhaps more, since we can appreciate how much is being said with so few words. It certainly is a book I would keep on my own shelf even now, although my children are long grown up and it has been decades since they have nestled in my lap for storytime. Highly, highly recommended.

—Sharon Browning

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