________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 23 . . . . February 17, 2012


A Walk on the Tundra.

Rebecca Hainnu & Anna Ziegler. Illustrated by Qin Leng.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2011.
36 pp., hardcover, $13.95.
ISBN 978-1-926569-43-7.

Subject Headings:
Tundra ecology-Arctic regions-Juvenile literature.
Traditional ecological knowledge-Arctic regions-Juvenile literature.
Inuit-Juvenile literature.
Tundra plants-Arctic regions-Identification-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Stacey Matson.

** /4



Soon, Inuujaq and her grandmother are walking across the hills again.

“Where are we going now?” Inuujaq asks.

“To get qijuktaat, just over the next hill,” her grandma answers.

Inuujaq’s feet are tired. She hopes they find the qijuktaat soon.

“Anaanatsiaq, why do you want to cook with qijuktaat so much?” Inuujaq blurts out. “Don’t you like the stove at home?”

“Oh, my little irngutaq,” Silaaq chuckles, “food cooked over qijuktaat is the best food I have ever tasted. You’ll always remember it.”

And as they walk Silaaq remembers sitting with her family while her grandma cooked over a fire of qijuktaat. Silaaq thought the smoke smelled delicious. It smelled like hot black tea and sugar.

“The qijuktaat crackles as it burns,” Silaaq explains, “and little bits jump into the cooking pot. You’ll see.”

A Walk on the Tundra is the story of a grandmother and her young granddaughter taking a walk across the springtime tundra in the North. Bored one morning, Inuujaq is invited to walk with her grandmother. She would much rather wait for her friends to wake up, but you don’t say no to your grandmother. On their walk, Inuujaq learns about the flowers and food that can be made out of the natural worlds of the flowers and plants. By the time she returns home, she knows a little more about the natural world around her and about her grandmother. Inuujaq also gains an interest in learning more about the flora of the harsh north, and she learns that days of just walking can open up a whole new world she never knew about and how to take care of it for the future. The story is followed by a photographic plant glossary and a list of phrases and words in Inuktitut that are used in the book. The photographic glossary lists each plant and flower, along with its nutritional uses and how to recognize it in the wild outdoors.

internal art

     A Walk on the Tundra is more of an educational reference book than a storybook, missing a conflict or strong plot structure. The characters of Inuujaq, the curious and impatient girl, and her sage grandmother, Silaaq, are gentle guides through the unknown world of the Canadian north in the summertime. The illustrations of the book are simple and colourful, and Qin Leng has helped to liven up the informational text with active, flowing illustrations.

The Inuktitut terms are helpful and fun to see and learn while reading the book. However, I found the first read-through of the book quite confusing since I didn’t know what the Inuktitut words meant. I didn’t realize that there was a glossary at the end of the book until I got all the way through reading. This meant that I had to double back to reread the story, flipping back and forth from the glossary to understand the plant references and some of the dialogue and names. A more helpful layout for readers would have the Inuktitut terms as footnotes on the pages where the words appear for easy reference and a smoother, clearer read-aloud book.

A Walk on the Tundra could be a good reference book for young children studying the varied landscapes Canada has to offer both in and out of the classroom, and young children will enjoy looking at the colourful illustrations of Inuujaq and her cute husky puppy.

Recommended with reservations.

Stacey Matson has worked in educational and interpretive programming in cultural/historic sites across Canada. She is currently pursuing her MA in children’s literature at the University of British Columbia.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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