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The Girl Who Speaks Bear
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The Girl Who Speaks Bear
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"They call me Yanka the Bear. Not because of where I was found. Only a few people know about that. They call me Yanka the Bear because I am so big and strong."Discovered in a bear cave as a baby,...
"They call me Yanka the Bear. Not because of where I was found. Only a few people know about that. They call me Yanka the Bear because I am so big and strong."Discovered in a bear cave as a baby,...
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  • "They call me Yanka the Bear. Not because of where I was found. Only a few people know about that. They call me Yanka the Bear because I am so big and strong."
    Discovered in a bear cave as a baby, 12-year-old Yanka dreams of knowing who she really is. Although Yanka is happy at home with her loving foster mother, she feels out of place in the village where the other children mock her for her unusual size and strength.
    So when Yanka wakes up one morning to find her legs have become bear legs, she knows she has no choice but to leave her village. She has to find somewhere she truly belongs, so she ventures into the Snow Forest with her pet weasel, Mousetrap, in search of the truth about her past.
    But deep in the forest there are many dangers and Yanka discovers that even the most fantastic stories she grew up hearing are true. And just as she draws close to discovering who she really is, something terrifying happens that could trap her in the forest . . . forever.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 3, 2020
    Called Yanka the Bear due to her strength and height, 12-year-old Yanka feels othered by denizens of her forest-side village, more spectacle than girl. She lives with her foster mother, herbalist Mamochka, who found her outside a bear cave as a rosy-cheeked two-year-old and took her in, and she finds comfort in the
    magical tales shared by Anatoly, a kind recluse with burn scars who visits when his travels in the Snow Forest allow. One day, Yanka awakens to find that she can speak to animals and that her legs have transformed into bear legs; she begins to wonder if Anatoly’s fantastical stories of transformations, bear royalty, and ursine souls might be true, and whether they might offer real answers to her own peculiar past. A gem of a fairy tale, Anderson’s sophomore effort offers a dynamic, memorable cast with rich personalities amid lasting messages about belonging, graceful acceptance of aid, and the power of stories. Ages 8–12. Agent: Gemma Cooper, the Bent Agency.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2020

    Gr 4-6-Once upon a time on the very edge of the Snow Forest, a girl named Yanka yearned to know the truth about her past. Found as a baby in the cave of a great bear, she has lived most of her life in the home of her lovingly protective Mamochka and their inquisitive house weasel, Mousetrap, with the occasional visit from the storyteller Anatoly, who lives in the Snow Forest. When she falls during one of her village's festivals and awakens with the legs of a bear, Yanka knows that the time has come for her to head into the forest for answers. Accompanied by Mousetrap and a host of other friends she meets along the way, Yanka finds more than she bargained for, but she may have to lose just as much. This whimsical story is intricately woven with Russian folklore. The charming writing will instantly transport readers directly into the Snow Forest. Tackling themes of home, family, belonging, and the importance of storytelling, this is a great classroom or family read-aloud and book club choice. Pairing the text with Sophie Anderson's The House with Chicken Legs will add a layer of context and depth to the world and certain characters. VERDICT Hand this wonderfully crafted tale to fans of books like Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon, as well as lovers of myths and fairy tales.-India Winslow, Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, MA

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from November 15, 2019
    A young girl who was found as a toddler outside a bear's den finds that her connection with bears runs deep. The villagers call her "Yanka the Bear," she explains, because of her foundling past but also because she towers over the other 12-year-olds "like a cuckoo chick in a nest of wrens." Though her foster mother is loving, and though Sasha, her best friend, is clearly devoted to her, Yanka feels that something is missing from her life and that she doesn't truly belong. Yanka impulsively leaves her home the morning after the festival celebrating Winter's end when she awakes to find her legs transformed into those of a bear. The forest draws her, and she can suddenly understand what some of the forest creatures are saying to her. She rescues a young elk from the icy river and encounters a Yaga and a house on chicken legs just when she needs help. Yanka and her companions in adventure retell the stories told by a woodsman who frequently visited Yanka and her mother, revealing truths about Yanka's enchanted past. Anderson's tale draws themes and inspiration from Russian fairy tales, deftly weaving the threads of these magical stories into Yanka's adventure and evoking the folklore, music, art, and customs of the Eastern European north. The Russian/European setting suggests that the human characters are white. Marvelously charmed and charming. (Fantasy. 9-13)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from December 1, 2019
    Grades 3-6 *Starred Review* When 12-year-old Yanka, nicknamed the Bear for her size and strength, wakes up with actual bear legs, her initial reaction is panic, but after learning about the generational curse in her family, she becomes determined to learn more about her ancestry. Yanka knows she was adopted?discovered in a bear's cave as a baby?but other than a few shards of the story, her past is a mystery. She wants to know what secrets lie in the forbidden Snow Forest, aside from the cursed lime tree and the house with chicken legs that guides the dead. When the forest creatures beckon to her, Yanka?along with her sassy weasel sidekick, Mousetrap, and new friend Yuri the elk?embarks on a journey of self-discovery that soon turns into a layered quest to save everyone Yanka loves from a ferocious and unforgiving dragon. Along the way, Yanka is helped by a colorful cast of human and animal friends, and her adventures in the present are interwoven with folk stories from her childhood, which might contain more truth than tale. Readers who enjoyed Gregory Maguire's Egg and Spoon (2014), Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, the Brothers Grimm, or Baba Yaga lore will revel in this new fairy tale that borrows from the old to make something new.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

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