A book about the circle of life and the big questions that need answers.
In Mur and the Blueberry the bear cub named MUR struggles to understand how BIG can walk through the forest without paying any attention to all the wonderful things around him. Thankfully, at the end of a long walk, BIG turns around and notices the most important thing of all.
Kaisa Happonen (b. 1982) 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 (b. 1969) 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.
The Most Beautiful Book of the Year Award, 2018
English translation, set in layout
Armenian (Paradigma Foundation)
Croatian (IBIS Grafika)
“Collage artwork plays with both the scale and clear shapes. The blueness of a blueberry meets the reddish brown of the bears, as the yellow of the landscape intertwines with the silhouettes in graphic black. Sizable text body and its emphasized words slip into the illustrations without a challenge. The result is well-balanced, prestigious and stylish.” – Statement of the Jury of the Most Beautiful Book of the Year Award
“Mur and the Blueberry is a book about journeys and destinations. The Mur books are about the adventures of Mur, a sweet bear cub who sees the world a little bit differently to all the other bears. But, just like his friend BIG and all the other bears, Mur eats blueberries from the forest. BIG is mad about blueberries: he sees them in his dreams and he’s on a hunt for the most perfect blueberry of them all. Mur has to follow BIG, because “Mur is small and BIG is big.
The book explores the differences between a child and an adult’s attention span. BIG wants to go straight ahead, without straying from the path or deviating from the trail. He sees and hears nothing. No darting woodpeckers, no squirrels, no lines of ants, no yellow butterflies that land on his ears, no buzzing bees. No glistening light shining through the trees, no half-moon, no bats in the dark. No puddles, no water droplets on a spider’s web, no crunching branches underneath his paws. The journey just goes on, and on, and on.
Mur, on the other hand, has a childish interest in everything she sees. She’s reminiscent of a tiring child on a long hike.
“In the middle of their search, Mur decides to do a somersault and she stumbles into the biggest blueberry she’s ever seen. BIG keeps going, without even noticing the blueberry. At this point, the book’s text fades into the background and the story continues from the monotonous perspective of BIG. The illustrations carry the story forwards and reveal how Mur protects the blueberry from a big drop of rain by lifting the blueberry above her head and stopping it from falling into a hole. Being small means you see so much more!
Vasko’s collage artwork is wonderful, as usual. As she herself describes her own technique when it comes to Mur: The emphasis is not on the outline, rather the images are made up of lots of different cut-outs of many shapes and sizes. For me her pictures are, first and foremost, handmade: the characters and their surroundings are first thought about with a pencil and then created by using different materials and textures, trimming them down, endlessly editing them and looking for the right tone.
The Finnish forest is styled in a fun way and its look changes from one scene to another, depending on the mood of the story. But the plants are familiar: there are marshes, crowberries, bog whortleberries and fens – bears tend to live in bogs. Mur and BIG’s journey – which also continues onto the book’s cover – is built on a track of twigs and pine needles. Colorful blueberries appear extensively.
Mur and the Blueberry is a delightful story about the wonder of looking around and how travelling can be even more important than your destination. At its best, this book will be read by an adult and child together.” – IBBY Finland blog
“Just over a year ago, I met A Bear called Mur. Mur didn’t want to sleep, although it was winter and everyone else was happy inside their dark nests. “I am Mur, a winter bear,” she came to understand. This time Mur is looking for blueberries. Or actually, it’s BIG who is looking for them. BIG is a bear who is big by name and big by nature; much bigger than Mur. BIG – who seems to be in some kind of blueberry frenzy – tells Mur that she has to come along too, until the pair manage to find a blueberry. “The journey continues until we get there. There is where the blueberries are. Not a step before.” But then something happens and, just as she did during the winter hibernation, Mur decides to go her own way. And her decision may just turn out to be quite useful.
“Once again children’s author Kaisa Happonen and illustrator Anne Vasko have succeeded. Mur and the Blueberry is a delightful story about how getting there can sometimes take a little extra imagination and how you can’t always find the things you’re looking for. The book’s charming illustrations will delight children and adults and the book will fit perfectly onto all young readers’ bookshelves… I recommend this bear story – once again.” – Kirjavinkit blog
“Mur and BIG live in the forest and this time their story is about BIG’s insatiable appetite for blueberries. BIG thinks about blueberries day and night; so much so that his eyes even start to resemble blueberries. Little Mur kindly and obediently follows BIG on his search for blueberries. Mur would like to stray from the path and explore to make the journey more fun, but BIG wants to press on.
“On the way Mur bumps into a big blueberry (because he dares to stop and do a somersault), but BIG doesn’t see it. Not until the end of the book…. While I was thinking about Happonen’s story I started to realise that perhaps the blueberry is a symbol for happiness or, more broadly “the meaning of life”. We adults are always moving forwards, pressing on, when ultimately we could stop and find happiness in the here and now. The book is a black-and-white cry for us to stop in the moment, just as all the wise people have always told us to. Nowadays children are also being told to stop in the moment and calm down, even though this comes pretty naturally to children who know how to play, draw and immerse themselves in these activities. The way we live our lives can be exhausting.
“The artwork by Anne Vasko is truly stunning. She really did find the perfect shade of blue for the blueberry… and her illustrations will blow you away (even though I’ve long been a fan of Anne Vasko). I like it when a book uses the same style from start to finish, and Vasko does just that. The pictures range from rich images to more simplistic ones but the colours are always strong and the pictures always carry an important message. Even the picture of BIG’s bottom is full of humour! And some of the pictures are really stunning, like the black-and-white picture of Mur sleeping on top of BIG.” – Sininen Keskitie blog