KODIAK — Kodiak resident Stacy Studebaker took an idea in hibernation for nearly two decades and turned it into a children’s book.
Her inspiration for her latest book “Hey Bear Ho Bear,” which hit Kodiak bookshelves last week, came from a song her band Waterbound wrote 20 years ago. “Hey Bear Ho Bear” was a song on the band’s CD, “Alaska Animal Tales and Tunes.”
“A lot of people know it and know the song,” she said. “When I recorded the song, friends said I should turn it into a children’s book, and that seed planted in the back of my mind.”
The book includes some of the lyrics from the “Hey Bear Ho Bear” song, and is expanded to include lessons about being bear aware and brown bear behavior.
“It looks into the secret lives, unique habits and habitat of brown bear with ideas on how humans and bears can better coexist,” Studebaker said.
While the song was written nearly two decades ago, the timing wasn’t right for her to produce the book, until now. She had been busy teaching biology at Kodiak High School, working on the whale skeleton now housed in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center and producing her book “Wildflowers and other Plant Life of the Kodiak Archipelago.”
Studebaker, a biologist, has lived in bear country all her adult life. She worked as a park ranger for 10 years in Yosemite, Glacier Bay and Katmai parks before moving to Kodiak in 1980.
A few years ago, she joined the Kodiak Unified Bear Subcommittee (KUBS), a group of concerned citizens and government officials who work on bear safety and management. When she realized the group’s public work wasn’t reaching children, she decided it was time to write the book.
Studebaker said the hardest part of putting the book together was finding the right illustrator to work with.
“If illustrations don’t convey the story or the message, it just falls flat,” Studebaker said. “You have to have the right illustrator. I wanted someone who could represent the bears accurately.”
Illustrator Kay Underwood, who used to live in Kodiak full-time, was the perfect match. Underwood was able to convey the brown bears and their environment in a realistic way that was not cartoonish.
“It was great that I could find an illustrator who could take my vision and put it down perfectly to the hair,” Studebaker said.
The last page of the book includes a naturalist checklist that highlights the other plants and animals pictured in the book.
Studebaker will hold a book sale and signing at Harborside Fly-By on Saturday from 1-5 p.m. Both of her books will be available for purchase. The bear book is $15 and the wildflower book is $25.
The Kodiak Reading Council has also asked Studebaker to do book presentations and present bear aware tips at all the elementary schools in Kodiak.
The public can attend a public presentation and reading on Saturday from 1:30-3 p.m. at the Alutiiq Museum.
“Hey Bear Ho Bear” can be purchased from Discover Kodiak, the Alutiiq Museum, the Baranov Museum, Monk’s Rock, Orion’s Mountain Sports, Mack’s Sport Shop, Northern Exposure Gallery and Norman’s Fine Gifts.