A book about the circle of life and the big questions that need answers.
A Bear Called Mur introduces us to Mur, the lovely little cub who keeps worrying that she’s not a proper bear… until she finally realises that she doesn’t need to follow the status quo.
Kaisa Haponen produces inventive, high-quality content for children across many platforms including television, digital media and books. Kaisa’s lively spirit shines through in everything she does.
Anne Vasko is an award-winning author and illustrator whose work reflects her creativity, compassion and open-mindedness. Anne loves Nordic nature and she draws on her native Finland for inspiration.
English translation, set in layout
Armenian (Paradigma Foundation)
Chinese, simplified (TB Publishing Limited)
Estonian (Post Factum)
Italian (DeA Planeta Libri)
Japanese (Seibundo Shinkosha)
Korean (Borim Press)
Slovakian (Enigma Publishing)
Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician (Planeta)
Thai (Book Dance)
‘A Bear Called Mur will charm readers of all ages… As we know, all bears go for their winter sleep once they have filled themselves up with a store of food from the summer. This children’s book is about a bear that doesn’t get tired at all, even if she should be obedient and stumble into her winter den at the same time as the others. That’s how Mur’s long, dark and boring winter begins. All the elements – the story, the text and the illustrations – are attractive in this book. Every child and adult may have the experience at the heart of Kaisa Happonen’s narration, of how it feels to be in some way quite different from others. The story, and Mur the Bear, encourage readers or listeners to be brave, to be themselves and to seek their own place in the world. This wisdom is conveyed emphatically yet playfully, via repetition, and a poetic manner of expression.
For their part, Anne Vasko’s illustrations are funny, precise, colourful and beautiful. All the elements support each other elegantly. For example, the colours of the pages do what is necessary to emphasize the emotional state of the main character.
This book can be warmly recommended to children, from toddlers, at least up to infants about to enter school. Moreover, the book is good enough to be read and looked at over and over again.’ – Muksujen maakunta
‘The exception proves the rule. This stylish picture book will appeal to readers from having a nice teddy bear in it, as often in stories – but with the difference, that this bear absolutely cannot go to sleep like the other bears, and has to fight against stereotypical expectations. Happonen’s nuanced – yet admirably condensed text – uses typography to enhance the interaction with Vasko’s illustrations, which use a collage technique. That’s exactly the way that a high-quality picture book works: the text supports the illustrations and the illustrations support the text on an equal footing, without either being dominant or subordinate to the other! The message of the book underlines, in an elegant manner, the acceptance of difference, in oneself and in others, the uniqueness of one’s own identify, and recognition of the strengths of others. This is manifested in the proud realization of the sleepless Mur that she has diverged from the familiar ways followed by bears: that she is indeed a winter bear. It is absolutely true to say that difference is richness. A Bear Called Mur offers an engrossing and empowering reading experience!’ – Ibby Finland
‘Of this year’s children’s books, A Bear Called Mur definitely ranks among the best in its balance of elements. Mur is a bear who doesn’t want to and simply cannot go to sleep in the winter like all the other bears. That’s the essence of the tale, simple, but containing so much. Kaisa Happonen’s story is written with a twinkle in its eye. It is warm, funny, full of feeling, full of life. It has a lilting, soft quality that finds its way into the mouth of the reader, like a snowflake on the tip of the tongue. So, the story consists of one little, big and unique snowflake. The book is delightful to read aloud, and the curve of the tale is perfect. There’s exactly the right amount of text and repetition for a picture book, and it makes me chuckle with glee. The story of Mur encourages children to be themselves. It empowers, and it gives support.
Anne Vasko’s illustrations are dazzling. Her use of colours is truly excellent, emphasizing both the super-cute characters and landscapes, and the depth of the story. The pages open on a dominant colour, which underlines Mur’s emotion, and conveys the power of the picture directly to the viewer. The effect is brave and ingenious. Thus, the illustrations, and also the text – which is slightly mischievous, playing with language – have much of Jon Klassen’s style, which we know to be internationally successful. Hopefully Mur can be equally successful, for the book has all the necessary ingredients.” – Sininen Keskitie blog
‘So bears and winter don’t go together. For bears, winter is a time for sleeping and snoring in a dark nest, dreaming of the summer. Bears sleep in the winter. All of them, except for one, and her name is Mur. Before the first snowflake falls, Mur has to climb into her dark nest unwillingly and fully awake. This is absolutely awful: spending winter alone and awake is far too long and it’s grim. It makes Mur cry and eventually it makes her angry too: something has to be done. “I’m Mur, a winter bear,” she suddenly understands as she no longer cries.
A Bear Called Mur is based on themes that are familiar and safe within children’s literature, like difference and sleeping, or rather insomnia. Why is it always so boring, sleep, for children? Paired with eternal ideas, this book introduces readers to the world of bears, including summer picnic trips and winter nests. One of the best things about the book is its illustrations. Anne Vasko’s artistic vision is fun, poignant and original, and simple enough for young readers to enjoy. Similarly, short snippets of text make the book suitable for young readers. It’s a great bear book: these stories about bears come highly recommended.’ – Kirjavinkit blog
‘The focus is in the shapes, not in the outlines. The atmosphere is created with the composition, and with different surfaces and textures. In addtion, Vasko’s colour palette is very close to the retro colours of Marimekko’. – BIB (Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava), 2019