The Bristol Bay Times

‘Quyana Spirit,’ Bristol Bay’s new picture book, asks readers to open their iik and explore

Author and artist Apay’uq Moore said that in the story, two characters, a human boy and the Quyana Spirit, a guide, journey through the world around them. Colorful illustrations of woods, tundra, river and more fill each page, and many pages include Yup’ik vocabulary.

Moore is a multidisciplinary artist and activist living in the Bristol Bay region. Her bright murals and paintings decorate places all around Bristol Bay, but ‘Quyana Spirit’ is her first children’s book. Her tagline for the book, she said, is “we live in a world that is magic.”

“The book is about these two characters who are going through the world and sort of on a little field trip,” she said. “They are taking note of the world around them and finding all of the magic in it.”

Moore said that the story’s two characters – the boy and the Yup’ik spirit guide – are based on her children Bode and Kaya, with big sister Kaya acting as a guide for her little brother. Moore said she was inspired to write this story during a walk with the two kids in Twin Hills.

“We were just rhyming where I would start saying something like, ‘Oh there’s a rock’ and ‘It would do this.’ And then Bode would chime in and he’d continue it on and then Kaya would do the next thing,” she said. “And so by the time we got back to my mom’s house, I had this great idea and I was like, ‘This was so fun.’”

She said that after she got home, she picked up a notepad and the words started flowing. After writing the first draft of a poem that would later become her story, she texted friends to help with edits.

“I knew I wanted to turn it into a book. So, I started looking up how to write a children’s book,” she said.


After finishing the text, Moore said she visualized the story. She said she taught herself how to format the book with YouTube videos and that she did the artwork on an iPad, teaching herself to use the tool Procreate.

Quyana, in Yup’ik, means ‘thank you.’ Moore said she decided to title the book ‘Quyana Spirit’ to reflect the Yup’ik way of being grateful. Finding gratitude, no matter how challenging a situation is, is a value she said she tries to instill in her children. In an email to KDLG, Moore wrote that she had been a single parent for three years before starting the book, and that it was hard. But, she said, reminding herself how fortunate she felt for getting the chance to spend so much time with her children motivated her to keep going.

All in all, the book creation process took about four years. Moore had her third child during that time, too.

“So I actually finished the illustrations when family would come to the house and hold the baby for a while,” she said.

The story includes Yup’ik vocabulary words interspersed with English, as well as notes on how to pronounce the Yup’ik words as they appear on each page and a glossary.

Moore said she grew up around the Yup’ik language, especially in the first two years of her life, when she lived with her mother’s family in Twin Hills. As someone who is striving to learn to speak Yup’ik fluently, she said integrating the language into her English has helped her pick up more vocabulary, and makes learning the language a more manageable undertaking.

“Having that to tickle your mind and inspire people to keep striving to use what language we do know and ask those around us to learn more [from them],” she said.

Moore said her mom helped her with translations, teaching her new words.

She said she wanted to keep her story Yup’ik-centered, which was one of the reasons she chose to self publish rather than go with a traditional publishing agency.

“Their audience would be global so they would want to change things and perhaps make it less Yup’ik centric. But for me, our people are everything,” she said.

Moore said that ‘Quyana Spirit’ aims to show the value of Yup’ik culture and the knowledge contained within it. When it comes to learning, she said she wants to encourage people to share what they know of the language, even if they aren’t fluent, as well as the culture, and normalize supporting each other in that exchange of knowledge.

Finally, Moore said she hoped her work on the book encourages others in Bristol Bay to try new things and follow through on new ideas.

Find ‘Quyana Spirit’ on Moore’s website:

Get in touch with the author at or 907-842-2200.