Nurk is a quiet homebody of a shrew. But when a mysterious plea for help arrives in the mail, he invokes the spirit of his fearless warrior-shrew grandmother, Surka, and sets off to find the sender.

It seems the prince of the dragonflies has been kidnapped, and Nurk is his last hope for rescue. Such a mission would be daunting for even the biggest, baddest, and bravest of shrews, and Nurk is neither big nor bad, and only a little brave. But he does his very best–and hopes his grandmother would be proud.

Nurk is a warm, wonderful, and hilarious illustrated adventure about courage, family legacies, and friendships of a most unusual nature.

Nurk received a Premier Selection Award from the Junior Library Guild for Spring 2008.

Nurk started with a painting of a shrew in a sailboat made of a snailshell. Ursula painted it in response to whatever vague internal prompting leads her to paint anything (and believe me, she doesn’t always know either–a typical Ursula Vernon painting starts with the artist sitting bolt upright in bed at three in the morning and saying “If storks carry babies, then vultures must carry zombie babies!”)

Then she sat and stared at the painting for awhile, and thought “There’s a story there.” About all she knew was that he was looking at fish growing on a tree, and that she had a kid brother named Thomas Maximilien McRudd that might enjoy such a story.

There was indeed a story in the painting, although it took a few years and an enthusiastic agent and an array of wonderful editors at Harcourt Brace before the story of Nurk emerged in the form you see today.