________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 25. . . .March 2, 2012

cover

Kaugjagjuk.

Marion Lewis. Illustrated by Kim Smith.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2011.
36 pp., hardcover, $13.95.
ISBN 978-1-926569-39-0.

Subject Headings:
Inuit-Juvenile fiction.
Inuit-Folklore.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Janice Foster.

**** /4

   

excerpt:

As promised, the Man in the Moon called three great bears to the village. Although Kaugjagjuk was now a great man, the villages, ignorant and unfeeling as they were, still did not see that the small boy they had spent so many years abusing was now transformed. In their haste, they called out for Kaugjagjuk to be sacrificed to the three bears, whose teeth were as sharp and long as harpoons. There was panic in the village.

 

Inuit author Marion Lewis provides young readers with an adapted retelling of a traditional Inuit tale. Her account of this ancient story of Kaugjagjuk differs from other versions. As a storyteller, Lewis focuses on Kaugjagjuk, who, as Lewis states in her "Author's Note," "chooses mercy and forgiveness over cruelty and vindictiveness" rather than revenge through violence as is depicted in most other interpretations of this story. This approach illustrates the role of the storyteller and how traditional tales lend themselves to a variety of interpretations.

internal art     As young children, Kaugjagjuk and his sister are separated from their parents when an ice floe breaks and they drift to a distant shore. Kaugjagjuk's mother calls to him to listen to the Man in the Moon, Taqqiq, who will watch over him. Once ashore, Kaugjagjuk spends the seasons looking for food for himself and his sister. When she wanders off and becomes lost, he comes across a village where he hopes to find help. Instead, the villagers are heartless. He is ignored, forced to sleep with the dogs, and given repugnant chores. As Kaugjagjuk grows up, he asks Taqqiq for help, and slowly a friendship evolves. Taqqiq presents Kaugjagjuk with painful challenges that he endures, and he emerges as a large, strong man. The Man in the Moon then sends three large bears into the village as a final trial. The villagers do not recognize the large man as the orphan Kaugjagjuk, but rather call out to have Kaugjagjuk sacrificed to the bears. In spite of the villagers' cruelty, Kaugjagjuk saves the villagers and kills the bears. He then leaves with his only friends, his dogs. The selfish, cruel villagers never recover from their loss, and their abusive, callous treatment of Kaugjagjuk haunts them.

      Young readers will find Marion Lewis' narrative of the legend of Kaugjagjuk captivating. The descriptive text, in an easy to read format, clearly presents the hardships of the mistreated orphan and shows his perseverance and strength of character. The colourful, full-page illustrations by Kim Smith capture the beauty of the Arctic and convey the emotional and difficult journey Kaugjagjuk endures growing up. The foreword by the late Mark Kalluak of Nunuvat, a gifted teacher, the recipient of the Order of Canada and a master storyteller, together with the "Author's Notes" at the end of the book help to frame Kaugjagjuk as an excellent example of cultural story telling and the lessons that emerge from the power of a story.

Highly Recommended.

Janice Foster is a retired teacher and teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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