cover image I’m Right Here

I’m Right Here

Constance Orbeck-Nilssen, trans. from the Norwegian by Jeanne Eirheim, illus. by Akin Duzakin. Eerdmans, $16 (28p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5455-1

In this poignant story, an anxious boy walks through a forest with his grandmother, who uses a cane and wears large eyeglasses. When William asks her what she is afraid of, she says, “I’m afraid that I won’t see the swans down in the pond.... I’m afraid of never again seeing those proud white birds gliding across the water.” William’s fears are more concrete: stinging wasps, war, big waves, sharks, and lightning. “That’s what I mean. Not the things you’re talking about,” he tells her. When William’s grandmother explains that it’s the losses that will accompany her eventual death that frighten her, he offers her solace. Duzakin alternates between the softly lit forest scenes and ominous, gray depictions of Williams’s fear-driven scenarios while Orbeck-Nilssen maintains a gentle, comforting tone, emphasizing serenity over gloominess. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)