3 picture books deal with 2 complex issues: death and domestic violence


What could be more difficult that dealing with the loss of a parent?  It’s a subject that most people have a hard time even comprehending, forget making it a subject of a book for children. But picture books aren’t meant to shield children. That’s my opinion, at least. There are people in the other camp who believe that hard subjects like death, loss, violence and abuse should be left out of books for children. But they’re all a reality of life, unfortunately. Isn’t it inevitable that they will have to deal with a whole host of issues as they grow up? Two beautiful picture books that I read recently reflect that if it’s done in the right way, they can be very valuable and effective.

 My Father’s Arms Are A Boat  (written by Stein Erik Lunde; illustrated by Oyvind Torseter) and Missing Mommy: A Book About Bereavement (by Rebecca Cobb) are excellent examples of picture books that poignantly deal with the death of a parent. Extremely moving, both books are a quiet meditation on the child’s emotions and an attempt to respond to the event. The illustrations in both of them  are what gives the books such mood, depth, and beauty. Honestly, I found it hard not to tear up while reading them, and that’s because they’re not afraid to be sad.

I’m currently on a hunt to find a Norwegian book titled Sinna Mann (Angry Man) written by Gro Dahle and illustrated by Sven Nyhus (Cappelen, 2003). It’s a picture book about a young boy witnessing domestic violence in his home. Disturbing yes, but so very important. Make that very, very important. Especially because it is a reality for a lot of children while growing up.

I don’t even remember how I found out about the book, but I had written out the title somewhere and have been looking for it for a while now. As far as I know there isn’t an English translation of it yet. If anyone knows how to get their hands on it, or has their own copy, pleaaaase get in touch with me so I can go down that rabbit hole too.

I had no idea that the book was made into a short film that was directed and produced by Anita Killi (production company Trollfilm AS) in 2009. I happened to find a video about it when I was looking for more information about the book. Watch an extract from it below:



Powerful, isn’t it?

Have you read any picture books that address important issues too? I’d love to hear from you, and am always eager to add to my reading list.



  1. It’s Picture Book Listmania Time! — AKA August 10 for 10 (#pb10for10) | The Picture Book Lab - [...] have a lot of respect for picture books that dare to explore difficult subjects. What could be more devastating than…
  2. Books for kids that deal with difficult issues | ellen allen - […] Thepicturebooklab.com lists 3 books that deals with death and domestic violence. […]

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