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OKSI by Mari Ahokoivu


by Mari Ahokoivu ; translated by Silja-Maaria Aronpuro ; illustrated by Mari Ahokoivu

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-64614-113-5
Publisher: Levine Querido

This graphic adaptation of a story from Finnish folklore introduces Umi, a mother bear who is living in the woods with her brood: three male cubs and a girl they call Poorling.

Poorling is a magical creature with a small body and an oversized flame-shaped head who desperately wants to be a bear. She is quite curious and shamelessly eager to please her mother. Umi has defied her mother, Emuu, a celestial being who wants Umi to return home to the heavens. Emuu, in turn, enlists an enchanted waterbird named Scaup to work with Poorling in hopes of bringing Umi back. When Poorling commits a shocking act of violence, events are set in motion that perpetuate a cycle of brutal savagery. Ahokoivu brings the tale to life through digital art and a mix of ink and dreamy watercolors. The primarily black-and-white palette is punctuated with bursts of dazzling color. Populated by animals and magical creatures, the storyline meanders whimsically but then quickly shocks with its sudden eruptions of violence, a stark reminder of the harshness of the natural world and the powerful universality of wanting to belong. With its ethereal fairy-tale quality, this quietly challenging story of parents and children translated from the original Finnish is visually powerful and emotionally compelling.

Dark, complex, and gratifying.

(note on names) (Graphic fiction. 12-18)