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Anna's Heaven

Overview

It is a day when everything aches and nails are raining from the sky. Anna's mother has died. Anna and her father are making their way to the funeral. But along the way they talk -- capturing memories, asking hard questions, picturing what heaven might be like. Anna's imagination leads both of them on a journey that, by the end, might just offer a certain sort of peace.

With captivating artwork and text that is at times whimsical, at times haunting, this profound book will make ...

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Overview

It is a day when everything aches and nails are raining from the sky. Anna's mother has died. Anna and her father are making their way to the funeral. But along the way they talk -- capturing memories, asking hard questions, picturing what heaven might be like. Anna's imagination leads both of them on a journey that, by the end, might just offer a certain sort of peace.

With captivating artwork and text that is at times whimsical, at times haunting, this profound book will make a perfect companion for readers who are wrestling with their own questions about life's mysteries.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 07/28/2014
Grief is the unspoken subtext of Hole’s (Garmann’s Summer) exquisite study of a father and daughter experiencing loss. Anna’s father is waiting impatiently for her as she swings in her backyard. As church bells chime in the background, Anna’s father is seen holding a bouquet, looking dejected. He tells Anna, “There’s someone in the sky sending down nails.” As father and daughter begin to talk about God, heaven, and Anna’s absent mother, the reason for her absence is implied but never stated: Anna suggests her mother may be weeding the garden in Paradise, since God is so busy. Or, Anna adds, she may have gone to the library. Hole’s mixed-media collages perfectly convey the wild, almost hallucinatory flights of Anna’s imagination, with images of flying fish, airborne jellyfish, and a giraffe and Elvis Presley half-submerged in water, amid other figures and objects. Even the front and back endpapers become part of the story. The front depicts a rain of nails, the back a rain of strawberries, as Anna had imagined. A gorgeous, poignant book. Ages 6–10. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews (STARRED review)
“Hole once again tackles the hard issues in children's literature, this time grief, with his now-signature blend of beautiful, thoughtful and quirky images. . . . A hopeful ending offers a fitting closure to this intelligent picture book that will resonate with grieving children and adults alike. . . . Deeply affecting.”

Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)
“A gorgeous, poignant book.”

Booklist
“This gentle meditation on life and death from the award-winning Norwegian author and artist is graced by beautifully executed, slightly surreal illustrations.”

Children's Literature - Laura Pastuszek
Anna misses her mom and Anna’s father misses his wife. Death, dying and grief are hard concepts for anyone to deal with. It seems to be even harder to address such issues with children, especially due to the scarcity of children’s literature on this topic. Hole attempts to help children understand these concepts with beautiful illustrations and a very creative character in Anna. She sees the world through a unique view, and she brings her father on her adventures of making sense of her mother’s death. She imagines a hole in the sky that brings her on a journey of acceptance. Throughout the book, Anna and her father ask questions and form responses for what many might consider theological, philosophical or spiritual questions concerning death. Humor is inserted in some of the questions and responses along the way. In the sky, she and her father see Anna’s granddad rocking in a chair, the old postman, as well as many famous deceased people. Illustrations depict the possibilities of what an afterlife may be like. Some deceased people can be benignly seen popped out of the water while others are floating asleep in the sky. Hole provides creatively interpreted drawings of life and death. This book definitely takes a nontraditional perspective to explain death and the attempt to address such a difficult concept with children should be applauded. Reviewer: Laura Pastuszek; Ages 6 to 10.
School Library Journal
10/01/2014
Gr 3–5—Mesmerizing and surreal mixed-media collages draw readers into this intriguing story of the many possibilities Heaven offers. Young Anna's mother has died, and the girl and her father are on their way to the funeral when Anna begins asking her father questions about God and Heaven. Though he is immensely sad and anxious to head toward the church, he slows down, answers his daughter's questions as best he can, and actually smiles as he lets his child ready herself for the sad task ahead. Breathtakingly stunning illustrations take readers on flights of fantasy that can be both beautiful and unsettling. The endpapers at the book's beginning show nails raining down as the pain of loss is relentless. After the father and daughter acknowledge their grief, the final endpapers are optimistically filled with ripe strawberries in place of the painful nails. Beguiling pictures and stirring text may lead to discussions about death and the possibility of an afterlife, helping to ease bereveament.—Maryann H. Owen, Children's Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-06-01
Hole once again tackles the hard issues in children’s literature, this time grief, with his now-signature blend of beautiful, thoughtful and quirky images (Garmann’s Secret, 2012, etc.).Opening endpapers pay tribute to artist Magritte and begin a series of symbolic patterns with nails falling from a blue sky with puffy clouds. The quiet story starts as Anna, a girl with bold red hair, and her restless father prepare to do something difficult. Numerous clues, including a cloudlike woman’s face looking down from the sky, tell readers that the young girl’s mother has died before Anna acknowledges it. As Anna begins to ask such difficult questions as “How can God keep his eye on everyone?” her world turns dreamlike with Italianate designs and surreal imagery. Soon Anna and her father fly through a hole in the sky—which appears airy on some pages, as an underwater world on others and even a mix with butterflies and jellyfish floating together—as they make their way to heaven. They take turns questioning and offering possibilities (“Perhaps she’s in Paradise, doing some weeding”), finding comfort in their personal reflections, even if they don’t have all the answers. A hopeful ending offers a fitting closure to this intelligent picture book that will resonate with grieving children and adults alike. Readers of Hole’s previous books will also find subtle humor in repeat characters.Deeply affecting. (Picture book. 8-11, adult)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802854414
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/8/2014
  • Pages: 42
  • Sales rank: 838,356
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.70 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Stian Hole is a Norwegian author and illustrator. His previous books include Garmann's Summer, Garmann's Street, and Garmann's Secret, all of which were published by Eerdmans. Garmann's Summer won a BolognaRagazzi Award, a Batchelder Award Honor, and the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award.
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