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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Mika: The Bear Who Didn't Want to Sleep
by Erik Kriek
Age Range: 6-8
It is winter in the Far North, and as the snow begins to fall all the bears are settling down to hibernate. Mama and Papa Bear are busy gathering food to take into the cave where they will stay for the winter. However, Bear cub Mika is not so keen. After hearing from the old owl about the Northern Lights Mika decides he wants to see them too and tiptoes out of the cave to find this remarkable natural phenomenon. On his journey he meets a series of forest animals, including an encounter with a rather fierce wolverine, but eventually he is rewarded with the most magnificent spectacle he has ever seen.
Dutch illustrator and comic artist Erik Kriek’s charming story, translated by Laura Watkinson, is rich with detail and colour; from the smaller to the large scale illustrations he take the reader on an incredible winter journey to see the Aurora Borealis which is captured in a breath-taking double-page spread illustration. The artwork has a real retro feel reminiscent of illustrations from the 1950s. The animal faces are full of expression executed in a delicious colour palette that jumps out from the crisp white background.
Kriek creates graphic novels for adults including the popular comic book series, Gutsman which received national acclaim and his drawings have appeared on a variety of printable surface from trainers to skateboards to posters, record sleeves and newspapers. Mika: The Bear Who Didn’t Want to Sleep is his debut children’s book, part of the classic Little Golden Book series in the Netherlands. The idea for the story came about as a way of the author introducing his young son to the landscape and animals native to his mother’s home country of Finland which are very much ingrained in Finnish culture.
This gentle story and sublime artwork is sure to capture the imagination of young readers making it a real treat to read.