About the Book:
Title: Agnes’s Place
Author: Marit Larsen
Illustrator: Jenny Løvlie
Translator: Kari Dickson
Pub. Date: March 1, 2021
Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the blog tour for Agnes’s Place published by Amazon Crossing Kids which aims to increase the diversity of children’s books in translation and encourage young reading from a range of cultural perspectives. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Young Agnes knows her home so well and the neighbors that live near her. Everything is pretty predictable.
So when Agnes sees a girl standing on the street below her looking up, her mind is full of wonder.
“What is the girl looking for?”
“Is she going to live here?”
From inside her apartment, Agnes quietly watched the girl and her mother move their things past her door and up the stairs all the way to the fifth floor. Agnes decided to welcome the new girl by making her an invitation to join her on the swings and dropping it into her letter box. But when the girl doesn’t come, Agnes is sad. She tries to cheer up by feeding the birds but they fly right by Agnes’s window to the new girl’s window. Why?
Agnes was still full of questions.
“Did the new girl see what Agnes saw?”
“Did she hear what Agnes heard?”
And the biggest question of all-Why was the new girl interested in everything else except Agnes?
So when Agnes get her neighbor’s newspaper, a task she always does, and finds the mailbox empty, the questions continue. But later that day, on the steps, Agnes and the new girl finally meet. And in that moment, Agnes’ worries and wonders disappear. The new girl, Anna, leads Agnes up the stairwell until they reach the rooftop where Anna has made a secret nook that was meant to be shared.
While Agnes had a sense of belonging because she knows everyone’s patterns, likes and dislikes in her apartment building, it was clear that she was lonely with no other children around. Løvlie’s detailed illustrations show not only Agnes’s knowledge but also her solitude. The predictability of her world changed the moment she first saw Anna on the street and then moving into the apartment on the fifth floor. Her excitement is conveyed in both the words and illustrations, so as a reader, my heart for Agnes when her invitation is not accepted. And for the first time, Agnes can’t explain someone’s behavior. Why was Anna ignoring her?
Larsen’s text and Løvlie’s artwork express both how Agnes’s home has changed all because of Anna. When Agnes’s seeks support from her neighbor Emilia, she replies ” we have all been new at one time or another. That’s a real strange thought for you perhaps.” Emilia’s comment made me think there has not been a lot of change in young Agnes’s life which is why she is feeling uneasy. At the end of the story, when the two girls come face to face, my heart leaped because I believe the anticipation made their meeting more special. Translated from Norwegian, Agnes’s Place is a sweet story that reminds us that life is always more enjoyable with surprises.
Praise for Agnes’s Place!
“A love letter to new friendships and apartment living.” –Kirkus Reviews
About the Author:
Marit Larsen is a Norwegian songwriter and musician. Agnes’s Place, her debut picture book, was first published in Norway and will also be published in Denmark and Italy. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about the author at www.maritlarsen.com and on Instagram: larsenmarit
About the Illustrator:
Jenny Løvlie is a Norwegian illustrator. Her previous picture book, The Girls, written by Lauren Ace, was the winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. She currently lives in Cardiff, Wales. Learn more about the illustrator at www.lovlieillustration.com and on Instagram: lovlieillustration
About the Translator:
Kari Dickson is a literary translator from Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2020 she won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for best children’s translation for Brown, written by Håkon Øvreås and illustrated by Øyvind Torseter. She holds a BA in Scandinavian studies and an MA in translation.