Veronica Salinas and Narges Mohammadi - Selected Title Authors

We are happy to present our selected title author Veronica Salinas. She has written Water Lily on the Sea (original title: Vannlilje på havet), which is illustrated by Narges Mohammadi. The book is one of NORLA’s Selected Titles of the spring 2024.

Veronica Salinas. Photo: Fartein Rudjord/NORLA

What is your book about?

The main character in the book is a girl. She has a flower name: Vannlilje in Norwegian, Nenúfar in Persian, Water Lily in English. (We wanted the girl to have a name that works both in Norway and Iran since the illustrator is from there. The brave and talented Narges Mohammadi lives in Tehran.)

Water Lily is playing with her friends in the sun. Suddenly, she hears explosions. Her mother calls for her, gives her a letter, and tells her she has to run. The girl does as she’s told. We follow her out of the city, through the forest, and to the sea where a boat is waiting. We then accompany her on a dramatic journey to a new place in a new country. We follow her mental and physical escape.

The book has the themes of children and war. Girls and war.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve worked with children and young people who are new to Norway for over ten years. I’ve learned that when people experience overwhelming events and danger, unique reactions can occur in both the brain and the body. The body is put on alert, the brain’s alarm system dominates, and the areas of the brain that control logic are inhibited. It can feel like the body is being split up into pieces. I wanted to create a book that puts a poetic focus on the body. Children who are fleeing need a language related to both escape and the body. The act of escaping becomes embedded in their bodies. I wanted to share a story about a girl who has to make it on her own. A sort of supergirl.

Who is this book for?

I like to think it’s for everyone, or at least for many. For those who’ve had to flee war themselves, the book can be a catalyst for finding the words to talk about it. For those who haven’t gone through such an experience, the book can contribute to an increased understanding of those who have. The text and illustrations are simple and poetic. The illustrations strike a balance between the beauty of the individuals and the brutal situation they find themselves in. I believe the book can be used to start a conversation about children, escape, and war.

What sets your book apart from others in the same genre/theme?

I’m not sure if I know about all the picture books that exist in the world with this theme, but in the ones I’m aware of, “girls and war” aren’t specifically addressed. I also haven’t read a book about war and the body the way we do it.

Narges Mohammadi has created several picture books and previously worked on themes related to children and war, but not like she does in this book.

Read more

See full presentation of the book here

Read more about the author here

See all NORLA’s Selected Titles for the spring 2024 here