Gro Dahle and illustrator Svein Nyhus are nominated to the prestigious Nordic Council Literature Prize for their latest children's book Don't.
For decades, artists and spouses Gro Dahle and Svein Nyhus have collaborated on children's books, such as Angry Man and The Dragon. They are particularly known for creating books that explore difficult, important and painful topics like domestic violence, divorce and questions of identity. The duo has received wide critical acclaim and a series of awards, including some of Norway's most prestigious literary prizes: The Brage Prize, the Critic's Prize, and the Ministry of Culture's Children and YA Prize. In 2022 Gro Dahle was awarded the Brage Honorary Prize for her distinguished authorship.
In Ikke! (“Don’t!”, not published in English), Gro Dahle and Svein Nyhus take on the idea of helicopter parents. It tells of how the parents’ desire to protect their child from all harm can lead to the child losing the ability to take care of themselves. This poetic text is full of rhymes, fanciful images and surprising words and phrases. As the urgency of the parents’ desire to look after their child intensifies, the naïve narrator’s voice further intensifies the underlying darkness. Repetition drives the text forwards and gives it a suggestive feel. The book shows how parents’ desire to protect can make a child feel trapped. The text both begins and ends in a tree, the only place where Tiki feels free.
Svein Nyhus’s illustrations complement and expand Dahle’s text. The use of colour is deliberately simple. Where red can symbolise what’s safe, blue can symbolise the sinister. In the beginning, almost the entire world is red, with some touches of blue, but over time blue increasingly takes over. In the end, it isn’t just Tiki who is trapped in a snow globe: everything safe is surrounded by the unsafe. The illustration is full of details, both unruly and strict. The visual language calls to mind authoritarian propaganda, reinforcing Tiki’s sense of “captivity”. Ultimately, Tiki breaks free of the snow globe. She bursts out of the blue and into the red, and in the end the colours are side by side, just like the safe and unsafe.
Our warmest congratulations to Gro, Svein and all other nominees. See the full list here.