In Scandinavian myth, there is tale of a squirrel named Ratatoskr ("drill tooth", or "the travelling tusk") who lives in Yggdrasil, the great sacred ash tree that unifies the world.
Atop the towering tree sits an unnamed eagle, the oracle of all wisdom, and between the eagle's eyes sits a hawk named Veðrfölnir, who in flight seeks out for the eagle all the knowledge from the realms beyond the great world tree.
After deciding on what insights and truths it wishes to convey to the dragon Níðhöggr, who writhes far below in the soil at the roots of the Yggdrasil, the wise eagle summons the squirrel Ratatoskr to the highest branches.
The eagle screeches its divine words into the ear of the squirrel, who then scurries down the vast height of the trunk to deliver the messages to the dragon sqwyrming amidst the roots. Ratatoskr spends his days like this, scampering up and down the bark of the great ash tree, ferrying messages back and forth between the eagle and Níðhöggr.
But Ratatoskr can be an unreliable messenger: he twists the meanings of the messages, provoking both eagle and dragon with gossip and miscommunication.
In Wellington, there is tale of a bookstore named Ekor ("squirrel" in Swedish) which Ratatoskr gnawed into existence from the bark of the world tree. Unable to assume an earthly form, the squirrel enlisted the help of two valkyries, Níkí and Geörge, maidens of knowledge and nourishment, in delivering his missives from on high.
The Yggdrasil's branches transformed into high wooden shelving and glass; Ratatoskr's twisted whispers solidified into written word and image; and all of us, the billion splintered pieces of Níðhöggr, we writhe in the earth awaiting what secrets the trickster Ekor will deliver us next: recipes, children's stories, history, art. fiction, toys, gifts, oh my...
Ekor's mural designed and painted by Phoebe Morris
'Phoebe Morris enjoys drawing stuff, designing stuff, and painting on other people's walls. She has been working as a children's book illustrator since 2015, out of a small studio on Cuba Street.
Phoebe has collaborated with author David Hill on picture-book biographies of famous kiwis including Sir Edmund Hillary (First to the Top, 2015) and Burt Munro (Speed King, 2016) for Penguin Random House NZ. She is also the illustrator of the Frankie Potts junior fiction series by Juliet Jacka.'