Author: Bodil Vidnes-Kopperud
Illustrator: Anette V. Heiberg
Publisher: Cappelen Damm

The student’s conclusion: Challenges traditional gender norms

The book is about Nilsen. Nilsen is clearly the main character, as the title of the book is “Nilsen and the crabs”, and he is an adventurous but quiet boy. He is the youngest of the characters in the book. He is with his big sister Dina and his father. Dina is a brave and independent girl, while the father is the heroic and caring adult.

They are on the beach fishing crabs. Nilsen has obviously never seen a crab before because he wants to cuddle the crab, which pinches his finger so that Nilsen falls in the water. He is helped and comforted by his father. Afterward they have ice-cream on the blanket. Nilsen and Dina want to go swimming. Their father releases the crabs into the water, but not where he and the kids are so they won’t be pinched. Nilsen has already experienced this. The book is a typical picture book with many illustrations and little text. As the pictures are large and look nice, and as there is little text, I find that the book is suitable for the younger children in day care.

Gender norms in the book: What I keep thinking about is why is a boy always the main character? Why can’t this book be about Dina instead of Nilsen?

In spite of this, I would state that the book is quite neutral about gender norms. Even if there is both a boy and a girl in the story, they do the same things, wear similar clothes and express the same things. The colours in the pictures are also very neutral; there is not much of either pink or blue (typical for distinguishing gender). Moreover, the adult caregiver is the father. This does not necessarily correspond to the gender norms. Normally it would have been the mother who would show feelings and provide care. Here we see that it can just as equally be a father.

Conclusion: I think this is a good book to have in a day-care institution. This book depicts equality when it comes to activities and care regardless of gender.

Student of early childhood education at Oslo and Akershus University College