cover image The Ballad of a Broken Nose

The Ballad of a Broken Nose

Arne Svingen, trans. from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson. S&S/McElderry, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4814-1542-2

Svingen has taken home top prizes in his native Norway, and he makes his English-language debut with a novel that addresses difficult subjects with a gentle hand and understated humor. Twelve-year-old Bart’s mother is an alcoholic and possible drug addict who’s behind on their bills; Bart cares for her while taking boxing lessons for self-defense and harboring a secret talent for singing opera. His low-key personality is both a defense mechanism and in keeping with Svingen’s quiet storytelling. The action of the novel follows Bart’s quest to find his father and hide his impoverished home life from the prying eyes of classmates, all while he develops an interest in classmate Ada, who encourages his singing. During a performance at the school talent show, Bart gathers the courage to face his anxiety and sing in public. With deftness and subtlety, Svingen shows a boy hanging onto optimism in the face of adversity and asserting his identity when he’s long relied on obscuring himself in the background. Ages 10–up. [em]Agent: Anne Cathrine Eng, Gyldendal Group Agency. (June) [/em]