Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, 12-year-old Yanka has always felt out of place in her small village. When she wakes up to find that her legs have become bear legs, she sets off into the forest to discover who she is, on a journey that takes her from icy rivers to smouldering mountains, with an ever-growing group of misfits alongside her…
Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses and dragons, Yanka’s journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure from the best-selling author of The House With Chicken Legs.
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.