WHY AM I HERE? by Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen


by ; illustrated by translated by
Age Range: 6 - 10
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An introspective book that will provoke reflection, particularly in sensitive and observant readers of a philosophical nature.

A dark-haired, brown-eyed child with light brown skin, clad simply in a T-shirt and jeans, ponders deep existential questions, wondering what life would have been like in a variety of different settings. Soft and dreamy illustrations help cushion the harsh impact of the reality some must cope with as the narrator journeys past young people who are homeless, fleeing war, working as child laborers, and surviving natural disasters. Touches of the fanciful and lovely—a secret forest, friendship with a ring-tailed lemur, stargazing—remind readers that even in a world of tremendous hardship there are moments of wonder. This is a multilayered book; “here” refers both to the particular physical location where one finds oneself and to our very existence on this Earth. It can be used to prompt existential conversations (“Why am I me, and not someone else?”) or to discuss current events (imagining that “everything was destroyed and wiped away,” the child asks, “Where would I go then? / Would I come here? / In that case, it would be good if someone said that / I could stay here”).

This Norwegian import takes young readers seriously, respecting their innate sense of compassion and need to derive meaning from the seemingly inexplicable. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5477-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Eerdmans
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2016


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