cover image Anna’s Heaven

Anna’s Heaven

Stian Hole. Eerdmans, $17 (42p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5441-4

Grief is the unspoken subtext of Hole’s (Garmann’s Summer) exquisite study of a father and daughter experiencing loss. Anna’s father is waiting impatiently for her as she swings in her backyard. As church bells chime in the background, Anna’s father is seen holding a bouquet, looking dejected. He tells Anna, “There’s someone in the sky sending down nails.” As father and daughter begin to talk about God, heaven, and Anna’s absent mother, the reason for her absence is implied but never stated: Anna suggests her mother may be weeding the garden in Paradise, since God is so busy. Or, Anna adds, she may have gone to the library. Hole’s mixed-media collages perfectly convey the wild, almost hallucinatory flights of Anna’s imagination, with images of flying fish, airborne jellyfish, and a giraffe and Elvis Presley half-submerged in water, amid other figures and objects. Even the front and back endpapers become part of the story. The front depicts a rain of nails, the back a rain of strawberries, as Anna had imagined. A gorgeous, poignant book. Ages 6–10. (Sept.)