IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Anga Kills the Tiger
Continuing with last week’s theme of multicultural illustration, here is a piece from The Girl Who Wanted to Hunt. This powerful Siberian folk tale was retold by my ex-husband, Emery Bernhard, with whom I collaborated on a dozen picture books from 1991-1996. This story might have been our favorite, for it is a tale of a brave girl’s transformation. We dedicated the book to our daughter Eve. With shamanic undertones typical of Siberian folklore, the story brings helpers ranging from fish to owls to animated trees to aid young Anga, orphaned and alone with an evil stepmother. Following in her father’s footsteps, she learns to hunt, eventually confronting her father’s killer – a man-eating tiger – in this climactic scene.
The story derives from the Amur River peninsula of northeast Siberia, which empties a vast watershed of tundra and taiga into the Pacific Ocean. With a climate similar to the Hudson Valley, it was easy for me to imagine the rolling hills, coniferous forests, and magical birch groves of the region. There, the richly-embroidered textiles, baskets, and fishskin crafts of the indigenous Udeghe and Nanai people provided me with inspiration for the characters’ clothing, and for beautiful borders throughout the book. I found their culture unique, authentic, intriguing and primal in the way of the taiga – the vast forests of northeastern Asia.
The Girl Who Wanted to Hunt, originally published by Holiday House, is out of print. You can find a used copy on Amazon. I might even have a few extra copies myself. As with most of my illustrations, the originals are for sale – please inquire by email if you’re interested.
Wishing you a good week,
D Yael Bernhard