Maria Parr and Åshild Irgens - Selected Title Authors

Maria Parr turns towards the nearest things in her new book Oskar and me. – This is my homage to the normal every day, and everything it contains, she says.

Uten tittel (5)
Maria Parr (left) has written 'Oskar and me', illustrated by Åshild Irgens (right). Photo: Julia Marie Naglestad and Jan Tore Eriksen / NORLA.

Oskar and me is chosen as one of NORLA’s focus titles for autumn 2023. It is written by Maria Parr and illustrated by Åshild Irgens. Here, Maria Parr speaks about the book, what inspired her to write it and where and when she works best.

What is your book about?

My book is about siblings Oskar and Ida and the everyday life they share with their parents. Ida, the narrator, is eight years old. Oskar is five and “all over the place”, with a special knack for being the center of attention in the stories. The book has the subtitle “Everywhere We Are”, and each chapter starts with one of the little places we find in what I’d call the topography of childhood: the closet, the hallway, school, the river, Uncle’s house, and so on. We follow Oskar and Ida through an ordinary year with spring, summer, fall, and winter, events big and small, a bit of crying, and a lot of laughter.

What inspired you to write this book?

Several things, but perhaps the most significant was the need to take a look at that which is closest to me. I’d written a lot about friendships before but less about family life. Exploring this theme was like opening a treasure chest within myself. I’ve also thought a lot about what we’re left with if we’re fortunate enough to grow old, and I believe that all those small places where we played as children are deeply ingrained within all of us. Throughout my writing process, I’ve also constantly been reminded that being able to live a safe and normal everyday life is a privilege, and it’s something you might not fully realize or appreciate before you know what it’s like not to have it. To express with a touch of grandeur: this book about Oskar and Ida is more or less my resounding tribute to the utterly ordinary in everyday life and everything it encompasses.

Who is this book for?

I often envision a “read-aloud” situation when I’m writing and want to engage the adult reader in a story from the child’s perspective. Reading together is a wonderful thing! The chapters are also designed as small, self-contained stories – the “golden frame” for reading aloud. The book is also fully illustrated in color, and I believe many children will find great joy in reading it on their own as well.

Where and/or when do you work best?

If I knew the answer to that, I’d probably have written a lot more books. I take a long time and write a lot that never becomes anything more than just practice. I’ve learned to truly appreciate the months when I’ve found the rhythm in a writing project and can just work. Ida, Oskar and I have had a wonderful time together!

Read more

See full presentation of the book here

See all NORLA’s Selected Titles for autumn 2023 here