Gro Dahle and Svein Nyhus

Gro Dahle och Svein Nyhus
Maja Hattvang / Lina Hindrum / Line Fresti
Gro Dahle and Svein Nyhus (ill.): Ikke! Picture book, Cappelen Damm, 2022. Nominated for the 2023 Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize.


Tiki is a girl who likes to climb high up trees and look down the hill, where everything is so small. But Dad yells that she has to be careful, and Mum yells that she has to be careful.

Mum and Dad gradually find more and more things that Tiki has to be careful about, and so she shrinks and shrinks, becoming smaller and smaller, until she’s so small she can fit inside a snow globe. She finds her way out of it and climbs a tree, thus teaching Mum and Dad that even though things can be scary, they usually end up all right.


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.


Gro Dahle (born in 1962) made her debut in 1987 with poetry collection Audiens, published by Cappelen. Over the years she’s produced work in many different genres, but her poetry and picture books predominate and she is known for her distinctive writing style. In addition to writing, she’s given a course in creative writing. Over the course of her career, she’s won and been nominated for several awards. In 2022, she was awarded the Brage Prize.


Svein Nyhus (born in 1962) studied graphic design at the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry in Oslo. An illustrator since the late 1980s, in 1995 he made his debut as a writer and illustrator with the picture book Drømmemaskinen, published by Gyldendal. Since then, he’s continued to illustrate picture books and showed a constant readiness to experiment with expression. Many of the picture books he’s worked on have been made in collaboration with Gro Dahle.