________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 10 . . . .January 20, 2006


Christmas at Wapos Bay. (From Many Peoples).

Jordan Wheeler & Dennis Jackson.
Regina, SK: Coteau Books, 2005.
145 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55050-324-3.

Subject Headings:
Cree Indians-Saskatchewan-Juvenile fiction.
Christmas stories, Canadian (English).
Wilderness survival-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Jane Bridle.

*** /4



The deer rambles off the lake and onto the mainland before it disappears into the forest. Mushom lowers his rifle in defeat. "Aiee," he mutters to himself. He sits on the ice and holds his side again. The boys make their way back to the sled and bring it over to Mushom. Freedom nudges Mushom with his nose and Mushom manages a smile and pets the dog as the boys make their way over.

"What happened?" T-Bear asks. "Why didn't you shoot?"

Mushom sighs and looks at the two boys standing above him. "There is a reason the Creator sent you boys here. Your mushom is getting too old for this now."

T-Bear looks at Talon with concern. Talon manages to hide his. "Don't worry, Mushom. We'll find enough food for Christmas," Talon says. "A good hunter is never stuck."


Talon, Raven and T-Bear, three urban Cree children, are visiting their grandfather (moshum) in his trapline cabin in the northern Saskatchewan wilderness. Christmas is coming, and other family members are expected to arrive soon. But, if the hunt for food is unsuccessful, everyone may have to return to the city. A forest fire earlier in the year has diminished the local animal population, and game may be hard to find.

     The three cousins, determined to help, set out alone with a dog sled. When they don't return, Moshum goes out to find them. However, when the children discover him overcome by an illness, they must try to get him home. In the effort of surviving in the wilderness, they are challenged to remember the traditional skills that their grandfather has taught them, and, in the process, they learn self-reliance and resourcefulness.

     Children will enjoy the plucky characters and exciting story of survival and rescue as well as the depiction of life on a northern trapline.

     The description of winter in Saskatchewan bush has a cinematic quality perhaps because Christmas in Wapos Bay was originally an award winning claymation short produced in conjunction with the National Film Board and Dark Thunder Productions in 2002.

     Jordan Wheeler writes scripts for television including "North of 60" and "Moccasin Flats" and co-author Dennis Jackson, who operates Dark Thunder production company, is developing a "Wapos Bay" series for Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

     Christmas in Wapos Bay is a strong contribution to the "From Many Peoples" series that celebrates diversity in Saskatchewan from the viewpoints of young people from different cultures.


Jane Bridle is a librarian at the Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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