The Most Beautiful Story by Brynjulf Jung Tjønn, illustrated by Øyvind Torseter

The Most Beautiful Story by Brynjulf Jung Tjønn, illustrated by Øyvind Torseter. Translated from Norwegian by Kari Dickson. Enchanted Lion, 2021. 9781592703500

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 2

Format: Hardcover

Genre:  Picture book

What did you like about the book? I appreciate the idea of this book: that a child can keep the memory of her beloved brother alive by revisiting him in her dreams. However, it was really difficult to figure out what was going on, as the text and art are so abstract. Only after reading the press release can I be sure of the story. There is aching grief in it, for sure. A child, Vera, who appears to be dreaming, finds her brother, Salander, in her dreams and carries him on her back. He “comes back to life” for her in the dream, and by mystical communication with a magical being named Syl she comes to terms with his absence.

There is beauty in the art, with black and white line drawings giving way to bits of color and cut paper shapes. There are folkloric images of Moomin-like creatures and lovely forest abodes. The book has a magic realist feel, but would be beyond the comprehension of a child.

Anything you didn’t like about it? See above.

To whom would you recommend this book? Perhaps this book would work as a gift for an adult who is trying to process a deep sorrow experienced as a child.

Who should buy this book? Although I believe it is targeted for children, I cannot see a use for it in children’s libraries. It may have a place for fans of Norwegian fiction.

Where would you shelve it ? Parent collections on big feelings?

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: September 22, 2021

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