cover image Waluk


Emilio Ruiz, trans. and adapted from the Spanish by Don Oliverio, illus. by Ana Miralles. Lerner/Graphic Universe, $7.95 paper (56p) ISBN 978-1-4677-1606-2

This exceptional English-language debut for the author/artist team of Ruiz and Miralles will make readers hope more translations are underway. The basic plot of their Arctic tale is familiar—two outcasts find they can survive when they cooperate—but the two are polar bears, not humans, and their fates are linked to the circumstances of climate change. Miralles resists romanticizing the Arctic landscape; her honest documentation of the scars humans have left on the land—trash, fences, highways—is especially moving. Waluk is a cub just abandoned by his mother, while Manitok is an ancient bear close to the end of his life, with few teeth and little speed left. Their efforts to hunt enough protein to feed themselves draws them together, and the drama that unfolds when Manitok is captured by scientists helps Waluk become a leader. Heartbreaking moments (“I saw how the humans had taken the skin off my mother and sister... as if they were seals”) are never overplayed, and humor always leavens the sadness. Suggestions of a polar bear spiritual world add yet another layer of interest. Ages 7–11. (Nov.)