From the Publisher
A Teaching and Learning for Peace Foundation Recommended Book!
Years Best Picture Book, 2008, Resource Links
"The serene, panoramic color illustrations reflect the majesty of nature and wild things in this enduring folktale, and an afterword mentions different variations of the legend told among Native American tribes. The Woman Who Married a Bear is truly a classic story in the most profound sense of the word."
- Midwest Book Review
"A memorable examination of the interdependence between humans and their environment. Atanas's illustrations are strongest when the raw Pacific landscape spreads across the page, celebrating sky, land and sea."
- Kirkus Reviews
"The exquisite art by Atanas Matsoureff enriches the narrative by providing a strong visual tone to the story.... This book would be suitable for Social Studies topics or Language Arts curriculum on folk tales. This folk tale is common to several western First Nations cultures. This book could be used in conjunction with other retellings to give students a better concept of variants or the oral tradition common to these cultures. It would also provide a point for discussion of the connection between these cultures and the natural world. This book would be suitable for both school and public libraries. Excellent."
- Resource Links
School Library Journal
In this retelling of a West Coast First Nations' myth, a young woman tells her friends that bears are ugly, filthy, dumb animals. The Chief of the Bear People wants to punish her, but his nephew asks for her as his wife. From Mouse Woman she learns that bears can transform into humans and then into bears again. Her bear husband is kind to her, and the seasons pass swiftly. When her brothers hunt for her, her husband takes her up into the snow-covered mountains where she gives birth to twins with human faces and bear cub bodies. Rather than harming her brothers when they come to the mountains, her husband allows himself to be killed, asking only that the young woman sing his death song and teach her people to respect the bears. Unhappy among her own people, she is finally able to transform herself and her children into bears and return to the wilderness. Atanas's exquisite watercolor illustrations capture the natural beauty of the Pacific Coast and the distinctive culture of the First Nations people. A wordless spread of three bears in a grassy meadow with mist-hung mountains in the distance helps readers appreciate the young woman's two transformations-mentally respecting the animal kingdom and physically becoming a bear. This is a welcome addition to units on Native American cultures.-Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
An arrogant girl disrespects the animal world and becomes part of it in this traditional First Nations tale, retold by James. After showing her disdain for bears, the unnamed protagonist encounters the nephew of the Chief of the Bear People, a group of human-bear shapeshifters. Forced into marriage with him, she contents herself with her new life, although her brothers' search for her threatens this fragile relationship. Seeking shelter from them in a cave, the young woman gives birth to twins sharing human and animal characteristics. Although her husband has been kind, when she sees her brothers she alerts them, and her husband must sacrifice himself to avert a bloody confrontation. Never fully adapting back to her human surroundings, the woman and her children instead transform into bears, free to roam. Despite a few narrative stumbles, this is a memorable examination of the interdependence between humans and their environment. Atanas's illustrations are strongest when the raw Pacific landscape spreads across the page, celebrating sky, land and sea. (author's note) (Picture book/folktale. 6-10)