PPBF: My Father’s Arms are a Boat

Author: Stein Erik Lunde
Illustrator: Øyvind Torseter

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books, 2013
Age Level: 4 and up
Themes: fathers and sons, death
Opening: My dad isn’t listening to the radio. He’s sitting in the living room, where the only sound is the crackling of the fire. When I was there with him, I saw the tongues of the fire lick his face. I went over and put my hand on his arm, and he patted my hand. Then I went into my room and got into bed.
Summary: Unable to sleep, a young boy climbs into his father’s arms and asks about birds, foxes, and whether his mother will ever awaken, then under a starry sky, the father provides clear answers and assurances.

Why I Like This Book: I don’t think I need to explain why I think the artwork is breathtaking, but so is the story it tells, and the concept – too rarely found in American books. Looking for images I found a touching review which ‘hit the spot’ perfectly – HERE, at A Teacher’s Perspective. Life’s stories don’t usually end on a high note – it’s what we make of them that matters. I have to return this book to the library. I’ve had it out for the maximum of weeks allowed. But you can bet I ordered it.  It won’t take much convincing to have my local indie bookseller stock this one.

Activities: I feel the illustrations will motivate any child to draw and cut his or her own pictures, to sculpt the paper and create a three dimensional scene, or a diarama in a capsized shoebox – like the ones HERE at Art Lessons for Kids. And if a child wants to talk about death, what better opportunity than while creating and expressing? My own daughter’s first experience came with the coverage of Princess Diana’s death. We drew a lot of princesses after that. Once she drew a rectangle around hers, and another preschool mom asked her what the box is for . Olivia informed her, “She’s dead.”

Go to Susanna Hill’s blog for more Perfect Picture Book selections and activities.