MIDDLE GRADE SPECULATIVE FICTION (Fantasy): The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson

 44575116
 
ABOUT THE BOOK
 
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.
 
REVIEW
 
This fantastical coming-of-age story was delightful unique from beginning to end.  The strong Russian folktale flavor mixed in with Yanka's story made for an enjoyable read.  Yanka loves her foster mother, but her memories of a bear mother and questions about her origins leave her longing for the forest.  It doesn't help that many in the village look askance at her for her large stature and extra strength.  After a mishap during the local festival, Yanka wakes up to find she has bear legs, literally.  She flees into the forest in hopes of discovering who she is and where she really belongs.  Her pet weasel, Mousetrap, goes with her.  But things don't go according to plan as Yanka must deal with wild animals, old stories that may be true, and Baba Yaga and her house on chicken legs.  As she wrestles with her feelings, the old stories she's heard from her friend, Anatoly come back to her, making her wonder what is real and what is not.  Can Yanka find a place to belong, or is she doomed to be an outcast or a bear forever?
 
Not only is the writing crisp and clear, but the storytelling is excellent.  I became a Yanka fan immediately.  The secondary characters are appealing in all their complexity.  Mousetrap and the house on chicken legs provide plenty of amusing situations.  And Anatoly and Mamochka make for a sympathetic foster family for Yanka.  The stories mixed in with Yanka's story don't get in the way and help explain things as they blend with Yanka's story.  The plot moves quickly and makes for a compelling read.  An enjoyable folktale-based adventure for young readers who also aren't sure where they belong. 

Comments

  1. This sounds like a great retelling of a folktale. The cover is cute too.

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