CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 36. . . .May 17, 2013
The Legend of the Fog.
Qaunaq Mikkigak & Joanne Schwartz. Illustrated by Danny Christopher.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2011.
40 pp., hardcover, $13.95.
Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.
Review by Rachel Yaroshuk.
It has been a long, hard winter. Men had gone out hunting and never returned. Strange noises had haunted the nights. Evil spirits seemed to be lurking about. Quannguaviniq had felt uneasy throughout the cold, dark season. So, when spring arrived, Quannguaviniq decided to leave camp and take a walk.
Nunavut elder and storyteller Qaunaq Mikkigak and Nova Scotia librarian Joanne Schwartz collaborate to share this exciting, action-packed story from the Kiviuq legends. The book was created to share the oral story culture of Nunavut and entice readers to explore the oral traditions of Nunavut.
After a long and treacherous winter, spring finally arrives, and a man named Quannguaviniq emerges from his home. While out in the tundra, Quannguaviniq sees an evil spirit, called tuurngaq, far in the distance. Knowing he is no match for the tuurngaq, Quannguaviniq drops stiff on the ground, hoping to fool the spirit into thinking he has frozen to death. When the tuurngaq finds Quannguaviniq, he thinks the man is dead, and so he picks Quannguaviniq up, tosses him in the food sack and carries him home to him family to feast on.
When the tuurngaq arrives home, he leaves Quannguaviniq out over night to thaw. While the tuurngaq is sleeping, Quannguaviniq sees his opportunity to escape the lair of the tuurngaq. Quannguaviniq kills the tuurngaq but sends the tuurngaq’s wife chasing after him into the night. Finally, when Quannguaviniq can run no more, he stops, bends to the ground, and traces a line in the tundra with his finger. No sooner does he do this than a river springs up from the ground, growing so wide that the tuurngaq’s wife cannot reach him.
When she arrives at the river, she calls to Quannguaviniq, asking how to cross the river. Quannguaviniq explains that he simply drank all of the water. So the tuurngaq’s wife begins to drink. She drinks until she can drink no longer. Seeing she is so close to her goal, she takes one more sip and she explodes, causing a heavy mist of fog to set over the land. And that is The Legend of the Fog!
The gripping illustrations depicted by Danny Christopher magically capture the tone of the story. Christopher’s use of watercolor is dynamic, changing the mood from cheerful, to grim, to frightening, all within the turn of a page. Variation in the illustrations’ focus contrasts both intimacy with the characters and the epic scale of the narrative. Christopher’s attention to detail adds layers of depth to the illustrations, drawing readers into the page.
In addition to stunning illustrations and articulate narrative, this book also includes an afterword which highlights the research process of editors Louise Flaherty and Neil Christopher in compiling this story. They express multiple story variations and the struggle to present one version of the story.
The book would be enhanced if the editors shared more specific details on the story’s geographic origins. It would also benefit from sharing more details as to how Mikkigak acquired this story. Despite this, the authors do pay homage to oral elements of the story. The book is well-researched, the diction of this book translates easily to the spoken word, and the illustrations seamlessly marry with the text.
The Legend of the Fog captures the tension and drama of Quannguaviniq’s adventure in Arctic Nunavut.
Rachel Yaroshuk is a Master of Library and Information Studies student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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