Yellowknife 18-year-old Nikolai Deleff is releasing his first picture book, The Bear and Ivory, a story inspired by his time in hospital.
Deleff was hospitalized last December with ulcerative colitis, resulting in extensive isolation from the outside world – but helping to provide the six month needed to create the book.
During his time in hospital, Deleff began drawing on the whiteboard in his room as a form of meditation. He says his nurses and doctors told him to take the drawings further, encouraging him to write a picture book.
“I really just did it to keep myself calm, because I was struggling a lot,” he told Cabin Radio.
“When my doctors and nurses started encouraging me to write a book, it was the first time I ever really thought about it.
“But, I was pretty sick and they were all so kind and nurturing to me, so I think pursuing it sort-of came from this immense gratitude I had gained.”
Deleff said drawing had always been his way of escaping the world.
“When I was a kid, whenever I got into arguments with my mom or family, I would go to my room and draw,” he said.
“It was really therapy for me, and also a way to learn.”
The book follows a young polar bear’s journey through the Arctic to find a rare and powerful plant that can save his mother’s garden, meeting other characters along the way.
“The underlying idea of it is the lengths we go to for those we care about,” said the young author.
“It’s a story that anybody can read, not just children, about what we’ll do for the people we love.”
The Bear and Ivory is set to be released on Friday, September 23. Copies will be available at the Yellowknife Book Cellar and via Deleff’s website.