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They call me Yanka the Bear. Not because of where I was found – only a few people know about that. They call me Yanka the Bear because I am so big and strong.

Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, Yanka has always wondered about where she is from. She tries to ignore the strange whispers and looks from the villagers, wishing she was as strong on the inside as she is on the outside. But, when she has to flee her house, looking for answers about who she really is, a journey far beyond one that she ever imagined begins: from icy rivers to smouldering mountains meeting an ever-growing herd of extraordinary friends along the way.

Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses and dragons, Yanka’s journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure from the best-selling author of The House With Chicken Legs.

Book information

Key Stage
ISBN: 9781474940672
Dimensions: 198 x 130mm
Kathrin Honesta

Author information

Sophie Anderson

Sophie Anderson grew up with stories in her blood, from her mother, who is a writer, to her Prussian grandmother, whose own storytelling inspired The House with Chicken Legs. Now living in the Lake District with her family, Sophie loves walking, canoeing and daydreaming. She spends every spare minute reading, and loves to talk about books online, offline and to anyone else who will listen. Sophie’s dream is to create stories that help children to explore the world and fall in love with its beautiful diversity.

Sophie Anderson on Twitter


Shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year (Children's Fiction) 2020

Press reviews

“Grounded in ancient fairytales that fee; special and true and glistening with the very real magic of love and belonging, this is a gem of a story.”
“Sublime storytelling.”
“It sparkles with forest magic and the power of fairytales, but has its heart very much in the real world.”
“Timeless and urgent, full of tenderly dispensed lessons about belonging, home and wildness. A wondrous tale that will win readers for generations to come.”
“An epic fantasy adventure of princesses, dragons and even a house with chicken legs.”
“Written with passion and compassion, Anderson’s talent as a weaver of magic and creator of evocative landscapes is growing with every book.”
“Enchanting story.”
“Marvellously-drawn characters and a timeless style of prose – along with the inclusion of traditional folk tales, all related to Yanka's story – come together to make The Girl Who Speaks Bear almost impossible to put down.”
“This is a wonderful book with such hope and strength and warmth that appeals across the ages and generations with its roots in a Slavic folklore heritage and it’s reach stretching into the future,- book about love, belonging and the stories that bind themselves into hearts so deeply that we make them real.”
“[A] charming and wintry, with a flavour of Russian fairy tales. A strong girl on a quest to find her true identity crosses ice and mountains and finds magical companions. Heart-stirring storytelling, illustrated by Kathrin Honesta.”