Ingrid Z. Aanestad and Sunniva Sunde Krogseth

Ingrid Z. Aanestad och Sunniva Sunde Krogseth
Cato Lein / Johanne Nyborg
Ingrid Z. Aanestad and Sunniva Sunde Krogseth (ill.): Berre mor og Ellinor. Picture book, Gyldendal, 2022. Nominated for the 2023 Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize.


Ellinor lives with her mum. When Mum is healthy, the two of them like to do nice things together. Things like making sushi, painting pictures, making cocoa, writing lists of “things we like”, and cycling in the rain. Mum is creative, present, wears red lipstick and sings to Ellinor in the evening. Ellinor’s friend, Stine, tells her that she thinks her mum is pretty and has nice clothes, but Ellinor reveals that Mum can also be sad. Maybe she shouldn’t have said that?

   Ellinor’s thoughts about this very question are a thread that runs throughout the book. In the end, she gets her answer. From Mum herself.

The illustrations draw on a natural palette using the colours of the sea, earth and sky, where even the darkness has an inherent “warmth”. The lines are soft, reminiscent of Mum’s body. And snail shells. And waves.

     The pictures and text intertwine naturally and provide close, concrete insights into the day-to-day life of Ellinor and her mum. Not just their outer life, but also their inner emotional landscape.

The sea is a central element for Ellinor, her mum and the story. It harbours a lot, it’s full of beautiful treasures, shells and animals. But it’s also deep. Deep down, everything is dark and silent. Mum is like the sea. Feeling psychological pain is part of being human, and just as nature has an inherent capacity for self-repair, so do humans.


Berre mor og Ellinor (“Only Mum and Ellinor”, not published in English) is a poetic, quiet, warm-hearted and everyday depiction of a child’s experience of their mum struggling with mental health issues. It is original and gentle as it goes about this, presenting the mother’s condition as harmless, nuanced and accommodated. The mother is more than the sadness she suffers from. She is also at all times herself, a mother who loves Ellinor.


Ingrid Z. Aanestad (born in 1983) made her debut with the novel I dag er ein fin dag (2006). Since then she has had several critically acclaimed novels for adults, as well as essays, released by the same publisher. Bere mor og Ellinor is her first book for children.


Sunniva Sunde Krogseth (born in 1987) is an illustrator based in Oslo who has received several awards for her illustrations. Nattsvermerne (2021) was her first children’s book. She received the NBU Trollkrittet debut award.