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My Father's Arms Are A Boat Hardcover – February 5, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

2014 Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Book

Brain Pickings' Best Children's, Illustrated, and Picture Books of 2013

"A young boy, grieving and unable to sleep, climbs into his father’s steady arms to find warmth and reassurance in this luminous story about loss, love and healing. [...] A breathtaking masterpiece." -- STARRED REVIEW, Kirkus Reviews

"The quiet, intimate text and enigmatic paper-collage and ink illustrations make a world of their own that commends interest beyond the therapeutic." -- STARRED REVIEW, The Horn Book

"This distinctive look at life, death, and grief is beautiful and thought-provoking." -- School Library Journal

"Stunning in its writing and illustration, this is a picture book that is noteworthy and memorable." -- Waking Brain Cells

"The striking, paper-cut-out illustrations add an unforgettable touch to this poignant tale of love, loss and comfort. Highly recommended." -- Midwest Book Review

"[Lunde's] writing is lovely in its spareness, but also hard edged, even in the story's many moments of tenderness. ("We look straight into each other's eyes. His eyes, black as night, are dark and deep in his face.") Pain is never far from the surface, yet when the boy's father assures him, "Everything will be all right," in the final scene, readers will believe him." -- Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Stein Erik Lunde: Born in 1953, Stein Erik Lunde has written 16 books, mostly for children and young adults. His books have been published in Sweden, Denmark, The Faroe Islands, Germany and France. This is his first book to be published in the United States. He also has written lyrics for more than a hundred songs and has translated Bob Dylan into Norwegian. Over the past 14 years, Lunde’s books have received many awards. In 2009, My Father’s Arms Are A Boat was awarded the Norwegian Ministry’s Culture Prize for the Best Book for Children & Youth.
My Father’s Arms Are A Boat was also nominated for the 2011 German Children’s Literature Award (Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis).

Øyvind Torseter: Born in 1972, Øyvind Torseter is an artist and one of Norway’s most acclaimed illustrators. He employs both traditional and digital picture techniques and has made five picture books on his own and several together with different authors. Torseter has received numerous prizes for his books, including the Bologna Ragazzi Award, the Norwegian Ministry of Culture’s prize for the Best Book for Children and Youth (for 5 different books, including this one), and the “Most Beautiful Book Award” for best picture book, also for five different books. In 2011, he received the Norwegian Book Art Prize. For 2012, he has been nominated for the ALMA Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.


Kari Dickson: Translator.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books; First Edition edition (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592701248
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592701247
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 8.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By B. Ransford on September 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Death and grieving are untidy topics so deep that they don't admit any kind of mortal reasoning, so we mostly avoid them. So does our children's literature, by and large, except for the odd book about losing a grandparent or pet that offers easy comfort. That kind of sanitized grief seems so pale compared to the stark Scandinavian kind on display in Lunde's book. The grief is fresh and present on every page. This is grief that only time can dilute -- the kind where you can see that life goes on (wildlife, fathers), but if you stop and clear your mind, all there is is a silent sadness. There is such resonant beauty in here. After crying my way through the book with my 4-year-old son, I wondered what I was doing with my time if not trying to scratch toward these very same truths in everything I do. In other words, it hits hard, and it sticks.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Van Tran on February 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't have a kid, but my brother passed away when his little daughter was only 2 months old, and so she has been growing up knowing her father is not here anymore. It depends on you and your situation to judge if the book is appropriate at certain age or not; to me it's perfectly fine.

The book is very gentle. Like a whisper in the night, a kiss on forhead, a blanket wrapping you up in a cold night. It's sad, yes, but more important, it also told us that it's not the end; that there will be always a solution, another turn;

things will be alright.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By MZ on December 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This children's book addresses the confused questions surrounding mortality and human existence as well as any adult book I've read. No religion, no dogma, no fairy tales. Instead, the boy finds comfort and truth in nature, his father's love, and a warm fire. Simple and profound.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Storywraps on January 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This hauntingly stunning book takes on a very difficult subject matter that many families find hard to understand or even talk about because the pain is so deep. A little grieving boy, unable to settle down to sleep seeks out his dad, crawls up in his arms and together they talk about why mom is not there any more and why she will never wake up and come home. The little boy asks many questions about the animals outside and he worries if the birds will get the bread he left them. By the end of the book the little boy has gotten the love and support of beloved dad and is assured all will be well both in nature and in their home. The topic is beautifully written and the paper-cut illustrations perfectly fit the tone and mood of the story. The illustrations give each scene the feel of a diaorama.

This gentle, touching story should be read before hand so you can prepare for the related "conversation" that will certainly follow. Both the author and the illustrator are from Norway and I am so glad the book was translated and sent here for us to enjoy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Emily Harbaugh on October 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing figurative language throughout the book. This text is filled with metaphors and opportunities for inferring. If using it in the classroom be aware that it does have a sensitive theme.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Susan Golden on April 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is breathtakingly spare and tender at the same time. Grief and life intertwine on every page. I loved the very "European" style of the almost surreal yet grounded illustrations, which don't seem to exactly match the text on every page, asking more inference of the reader. I don't believe, unlike the comment of another, that the book is meant for 2 year olds, but sensitive four year olds up to adults will think and wonder long about how to make life go on after death and the place that love has in this tough equation. The father says all will be will be well and we believe him, as does the young narrator, despite his understandable unhappiness.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Calvin on March 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The illustrative style is really interesting, but more importantly, this is a profound children's book. The author created a calm and safe atmosphere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn Hall on March 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A quiet and moving story. The imagery was very effective. Understated, not a tear-jerker, and could be read to children of any age.
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