Nekane, the Lamina & the Bear: A Tale of the Basque Pyrenees (Toucan Tales) - Frank P. Araujo

Genre: Fantasy / Folktale / Drama / Animal

Year Published: 1993

Year Read: 2003

Whew, it has been many years since I last read this obscure children’s book that came from the Basque Pyrenees!  “Nekane, the Lamina, and the Bear” is a Basque Pyrenees folktale written by Frank P. Araujo, PhD along with illustrations by Xiao Jun Li and this story basically contains trickery, drama and pure wits that will have children sitting on the edge of their seats!
Nekane, a young Basque girl of the Pyrenees Mountains, was asked by her mother to bring olive oil and fish to her Uncle Kepa, but she must be careful of the lamina, a forest spirit who would try to steal her olive oil and fish.  As Nekane goes through the forest, she notices that the Lamina was trying to trick her in to stealing her basket, but it did not succeed.  Then, Nekane meets up with a large and frightening bear who threatened to eat her and her fish.  Nekane then thinks quickly by convincing the bear to follow her to her Uncle Kepa’s house so that she could give the bear some honey.  But, when Nekane finally gets to her Uncle Kepa’s house…
What happens when Nekane gets inside her Uncle Kepa’s house?
Read this story to find out!
Frank P. Araujo, PhD really made this book come alive as it is full of excitement and tension that will get many readers interested in this strange and unique folktale!  I also loved the fact that Frank P. Araujo, PhD retold this story from his childhood, which I found extremely endearing as it brought a more personal touch to the story.  I really loved the Basque glossary at the end of the book as it helped me understand more about the Basque language. I loved the heroine Nekane as she is shown to be a clever and resourceful girl who is able to get herself out of trouble by using her wits and her knowledge about the Lamina’s various forms.  Xiao Jun Li’s illustrations are truly creative as it captures the dramatic spirit of this story.  I loved the way that Xiao Jun Li done the water coloring for the illustrations as they are colorful and vivid to look at.  I really loved the illustrations of the bear as the bear is shown to be extremely huge and frightening as it has red eyes that make it truly menacing.  I also loved the way that the bear’s form filled up the entire page giving it such a brooding presence in the story.
Parents should know that the images of the bear and the lamina might scare smaller children since they look extremely frightening and menacing.  Also, the fact that both the lamina and the bear threatened Nekane, who is a young girl, might also disturb smaller children.
Overall, “Nekane, the Lamina, and the Bear” is a truly wonderful book for anyone who is interested in reading folktales from Basque Pyrenees.  I would recommend this book to children ages six and up since the bear and the lamina might frighten smaller children and the Basque terms might be difficult for smaller children to understand.
Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog