Maria Parr and Åshild Irgens

Julia Marie Naglestad / Jan Tore Eriksen
Maria Parr and Åshild Irgens (ill.): Oskar og eg. Children’s book to read out loud, Samlaget, 2023. Nominated for the 2024 Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize.


In Oskar og eg (“Oskar and Me”, not translated into English), we meet eight-year-old Ida and her little brother, Oskar, who’s five. They live with their parents in a small village in Western Norway where nature and village life create an external universe. Over the course of eleven chapters, we follow the siblings in their daily life throughout the year. Each chapter is a story with its own inner drama. Ida narrates from her own observant, direct, and curious perspective of a child. The language has a cheerful and elegant lightness to it, making the stories suitable for reading aloud.  


Ida and Oskar grow up in a safe and “ordinary” home, encountering life’s different facets and challenges with healthy emotional reactions. The author convincingly and accurately portrays that both adults and children are allowed to feel sad, angry, scared, envious, and grumpy without the need to turn it into a problem, condemn it, or think of it as sickness.  


The relationship between independence and dependence is a recurring theme in the book. Trying, failing, mastering, and struggling constitute important experiences that children go through during childhood. However, they also need a safe haven to retreat to for comfort and care. In Parr’s universe, it’s the child’s emotions, contemplations, and observations in day-to-day life that take centre stage. Life and the days should be experienced and discovered. Ida and Oskar are active, creative, and curious participants in their own lives, and they can serve as role models for children today, who often become passive recipients of the creativity of others.  


The illustrations by Åshild Irgens create situational images that complement the text well, bringing out Ida and Oskar’s everyday life in a charming, humorous, and personal manner.  

Maria Parr (born in 1981) made her debut in 2005 with the children’s book Vaffelhjarte and has since published three more books for children. With her second book, Tonje Glimmerdal, she achieved great international success and has received numerous awards for her books, both nationally and internationally. Her books are translated into more than thirty languages and have been dramatised for both television and stage. Oskar og eg has won the Brage Prize in the category for children and young people’s literature in 2023.