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Anna's Heaven

(Garmann #4)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  166 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
It is a day when everything aches and nails are raining from the sky. Anna's mother has died. Anna and her father are making their way to the funeral. But along the way they talk -- capturing memories, asking hard questions, picturing what heaven might be like. Anna's imagination leads both of them on a journey that, by the end, might just offer a certain sort of peace.Wit ...more
Unknown Binding, 42 pages
Published September 8th 2014 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2013)
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Apr 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Kids; Parents
This is a surreal and very strange Norwegian book.

Ostensibly it's about a father and a daughter talking about what Heaven is like and what their wife/mother is doing there. One could surmise they are on the way to Anna's mom's funeral, but that's pure theory.

Now, when I say it like that, it sounds reasonable and clear, but the book is anything but reasonable and clear.

The pictures are gorgeous and surreal. Anna's dad's reflection in the lake is that of a rabbit. The opening end pages are of a sk
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Anna and her father are on the way to her mother's funeral. Anna daydreams on a swing before they leave. She daydreams about heaven and what her mother is doing there. She has questions about God -- what he does in heaven and what he does on Earth? Through Anna's imagination we witness a child dealing with the passing of her mother. The vivid applique photographs on colorful backgrounds brings the texts alive to the reader. I feel this book,though imaginative, might need further explanation by a ...more
 Sophia B
4.5 Beautiful, poetic book about grief in the family while never mentioning death or grief. But it is there, tangible, like cloves falling from the sky and unbraided hair and no mother to braid it. And father is restless so Anna takes him on a journey through the sky towards the bottom of the sky into the sea where people are swimming and flying through water and where grandpa and mother read or garden in the library/garden of God. Beautifully told and painted, so subtle and complex but also so ...more
Jun 11, 2015 rated it liked it
The book never explicitly states that Anna’s mother has passed away, but experienced readers can infer this if they parse through a surrealistic barrage of collaged imagery to see the typical belongings of an adult woman lying in a box on the floor, or Anna’s questions about heaven, or a quizzical sky with lots of people and animals floating by, prone, as if in eternal sleep. I’m not sure younger readers will have the background knowledge to catch the author’s drift.

That aside, this picture boo
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Anna's Heaven is about a little girl waiting with her father to go to her mother's funeral. The book begins with her father admonishing her to, "Hurry up!" However, as the book progresses the father allows himself to follow Anna through her daydreams until she is ready to go to the funeral.

It is difficult to find books about children dealing with a mother's death and this book is one of the best. Anna is a dreamy girl who talks about her mother's death in an indirect manner, typical of young ch
Marvelous illustrations and poetic text offer a philosophical pondering on death and its possible aftermath. A girl and her father each mourn the loss of her mother--his wife--and prepare to go, most likely for her funeral but possibly to resume life. The girl takes her father on a journey to her idea of Heaven where she imagines the woman weeding the garden or checking out books from the library. The first endpapers feature nails seemingly hurled through the skies and the last endpapers contain ...more
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a year Eerdman's is having! Here is another extraordinary picture book that speaks evocatively about grief. Extraordinary and unusual illustrations lend a surreal but ultimately peaceful and hopeful feel to the book. This is one to give both to thoughtful children AND adults coming to terms with less in their lives.
Dov Zeller
Cool, collagic, trippy art with text that I didn't find myself drawn to as much. The book that addresses death and loss in a way that is perhaps accessible for kids who have lost important people.
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
#SEL #death #older - beautifully illustrated book about a young girl and her father - it's inferred that the mother has died. Imaginative use of art and ideas.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Superschöne Bilder.
Beautiful artwork, peculiar wording, undefinable target group, wonderful heroine: I admire Anna, who at her young age senses that her father is too tense, too fidgety to go through his late wife's funeral. So she ignores his demands to hurry up, shoves him head first into a dream journey of memory bits and sensations and and weaves strange images and weired tales about the heaven she imagines her mother to be landed in. When her father's mouth is able to form the beginning of a smile, her work i ...more
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs
Anna's Heaven by Stian Hole is a surreal tale about a young girl's journey to help herself accept her mother's death and help her father find happiness. Hole turns his literary world into a beautifully fantastic universe. With each turn of the page the reader discovers something new and strangely captivating. Some spreads show Anna's plain reality, and others are full of objects and beings from "the other side of the mirror." Hole's work is delicate and detailed while still seeming cheerful and ...more
Jane G Meyer
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very melancholy book--both in tone and visually, yet the text is filled with hope and lightness, even though the main theme is loss and death.

Right away upon opening this book there is a European sensibility about both the story and the images. A looseness that Americans typically don't employ. I love how the little girl's innocence and lightness helps pull the father out of his grief and into her place of play and hope. Her care for him is both tender and realistic...

Most of the illustrations
Losing a loved one is a profoundly difficult experience at any age, but it can be especially difficult to process as a young person. Anna's Heaven follows a young child and her father as they grapple with the death of their respective mother and wife.

This book's high point is the amazing and unique illustrations, which elevate a text that is at times touching and beautiful, and at others difficult to follow. My favorite parts are when Anna is describing the afterlife she imagines for her mother
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When your world turns upside down, it may pay to look at it that way.
Young Anna does just that — and takes her grieving father along — in the subtly worded and creatively illustrated "Anna's Heaven."
Translated by Don Bartlett from the Norwegian, this picture-heavy and text-terse Eerdman's Book for Young Readers would make for an interesting parent-child reading time, especially in households dealing with a death of a loved one.
The dialogue between father and daughter bounces between the realisti
Nancy Kotkin
Story: 1 star
Art: 5 stars

Stunning surrealistic illustrations, but I doubt any child will understand this picture book. The non-linear text is a mish-mash of random thoughts. It's supposed to be a conversation between a father and daughter grieving over the death of the girl's mother, but there is no logical flow to the dialogue or any sensible reaction from the other person.


"Look! Swallows are writing cursive letters in the sky. Maybe they're making shopping lists for us. And a recipe fo
Maureen Milton
“Do you think that there’s anything on the other side of the mirror?” Anna questions her restless father about her mother’s death. Reflections (her mother’s ghost image follows the mountain’s contours, a teapot mirrors an elephant, Anna and father’s pond reflections) and the text’s opening palindromes underscore the mystery of dying. After Anna plunges into the sky, her grieving father follows her through fanciful wonderings about her mother’s whereabouts and doings. Soon they emerge, Anna ready ...more
Anna's imagination is very vivid. She imagines flying elephants. Her questions and observations capture what the inside of a child might be thinking like how can God keep an eye on everyone? Questions about why can't braid her hair. She winds up taking her father on this adventure with her.

This book is good for boys or girls

Anyone who has quesitons about death

Great for kids in Kindergarten to 2nd grade
This is a very unique book about a father and daughter - the mother has passed away, and it is clear that the father is struggling with that absence in his life. The positivism and imagination inherent to his daughter help to pull him out of his depression and into a happier place. The illustrations are dreamlike and interesting to look at - much time can be spent with this book. Be aware that there is discussion of God within the pages of this book.
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
If Magritte, Dali and Bosch illustrated a children's book . . .

incredible art in this book from Norway's Stian Hole. Simply amazing -- so much to look at.

A father is sad; his daughter Anna asks unending questions about the nature of life and heaven and together they go on an imaginary journey (it seems implied that the mother has died).

Originally published in Norway
English language translation by Don Bartlett
Eerdmans 2014
Michele Knott
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
The concept of Heaven is a hard one for young children to wrap their heads around. I picked this book up thinking it would approach the subject in a concrete way while keeping in mind the audience. This book ended up being so abstract for me that I'm really not sure who it was about. I'm not sure if things got lost in translation or not, but not a winner for me. Some of the illustrations were amazing while others were odd.
Marissa Elera
Stian Hole has outdone himself in this absolutely stunning, emotional tribute to death. I had to sit and breathe for a minute after finishing it. It is utterly arresting, visually and textually moving, and altogether gorgeous. Each illustration is better than the last, but the one that grabbed my heart in vise is the one accompanying "Listen! The sea has so many voices!".
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Stian Hole's illustrations are sheer artistry and candy for the eyes. He takes a sullen sad moment and creates beauty to sustain us through their grief.

It is haunting yet uplifting, melancholy yet playful.

Kudos to Eerdman's Books for Young Readers for bringing this author's work to life.

Fantastic. #mustread
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebook
This is a very elliptical book about a girl dealing with her mother's death. It won't appeal to the masses, but for the right child at the right time (when dealing with loss), it will be just right for repeated reading and the basis for further conversation. Comparable to "Duck, death, and the tulip".
Lauren White
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING . Wow this book was incredible. Beautiful text on death, heaven, nature and the bond between father and daughter. The illustrations were out of this world. This has to be one of the best books I have read recently.
Rachel Watkins
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
ANNA'S HEAVEN is a dreamy beautiful picture book that is perfect for people aged 8 to 100 to read when grieving. Both lyrically and visually haunting, this book comforts in the way it examines our questions and posing perfectly preposterous yet wonderful answers.
Patrician Day
This book I think allows children to know it is okay to asks questions about certain topics, such as death and heaven. The illustrations are what make this book appealing to the eye and to the sense of you are not alone vibe.
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a beautifully intriguing book. The illustrations are incredible and create beauty surrounding a sensitive subject.
Tara Song
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I agree with other reviews regarding the beauty of the artwork! I also believe it best for an adult or teenager.
Edward Sullivan
Oct 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Surreal, contemplative, and affecting portrait of a grieving father and daughter. Stunning illustrations.
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Stian Hole (born 20 March 1969, in Tønsberg, Norway) is a Norwegian graphic designer, illustrator and writer of children's books. He has made numerous book covers and three picture books which have gained national and international recognition. His book Garmann's Summer earned him an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award in 2009. In 2009 he won the Nordic Children's Book Prize.

Other books in the series

Garmann (4 books)
  • Garmann's Summer
  • Garmann's Street
  • Garmann's Secret
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