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Dementia-themed Faroese picture book nominated for Children and Young People’s Literature Prize

Thirteen Nordic picture books, youth novels, and collections of poetry, including a Faroese title by Dánial Hoydal and Annika Øyrabø, have been nominated for the 2022 Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize. 

The nominated Faroese picture book “Abbi og eg og abbi” (English: ‘Grandpa and Me and Grandpa’), written by Hoydal and illustrated by Øyrabø, published last summer, is targeted at children age four to seven. It’s a story about having a grandfather who changes and has started to lose his mental faculties.

“In this picture book, which at one and the same time exudes humour, sadness and hope, we share as readers in a small boy’s close relationship with his grandfather,” the Nordic Council stated regarding the Faroese book. 

“With the boy as the narrator, we follow the two when they’re out feeding the ducks down by the duck pond, when granddad tells stories, and when the boy stays with granddad. Halfway through the story, however, we receive some clues that everything is not as it usually is — and it turns out that the grandfather’s memory is starting to fail. With the boy’s mother as intermediary and guide, the picture quietly changes, and by the end of the book it is the boy who is helping his grandfather, where previously it was the other way around.”

“With dementia as an underlying theme, this picture book is part of a trend that has dominated in recent years within Nordic children’s and youth literature,” the Nordic Council added in their rationale statement. 

“Successfully communicating about such a serious subject, which many would regard as unsuitable for children, requires a certain degree of ingenuity and warmth. With a wonderful balancing act between light and darkness, Dánial Hoydal and Annika Øyrabø master exactly this.” 

“The text and pictures merge into a whole, in which humorous rhymes and sayings and the cosy atmosphere of the grandfather’s home stand in stark contrast to the centre picture of the story, where the two no longer find any joy in their otherwise pleasant trips to the duck pond,” the statement further read. 

“At the end of the book we are once again down at the duck pond, but this time the symbolic sunset, together with the grandfather’s rediscovered humour, casts a warm light on the otherwise hopeless situation.”

Dánial Hoydal and Annika Øyrabø. Image credits: The Nordic Council.
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