________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 24. . . .February 21, 2014


The Raven and the Loon.

Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley. Illustrated by Kim Smith.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2013.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-927095-50-8.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Lara LeMoal.

*** /4



There was Raven.
There was Loon.
Both were plain white.
They were stuck without colour.


The text on the back cover of The Raven and the Loon asks a compelling question: “Do you know what animals look like?” Of course the reader thinks, “Yes.” But that raises the next question: “Have they always looked that way?”

internal art     The process of ‘becoming’ is at the heart of Raven and the Loon, an Inuit fable written by Rachel and Sean Qitualik-Tinsley. It is the story of how the raven and the loon came to look the way they do. The tale begins in a world of white. Raven and Loon are surrounded by snow and ice; even their feathers are a boring white. The two birds decide that they will bring some excitement to their lives by sewing new coats for each other. The outcome, as one might guess, does not turn out as originally planned.

     The distinctive personalities of Raven and Loon play an important role in the unexpected outcome of their plan. Loon is calm and mild-mannered while Raven is loud and rambunctious. The final result of this scheme comes about by chance, but the story suggests that the path to that outcome is dictated in part by who they are…or does it? This subtle relationship between fate and personality is a large part of why this story is so appealing. It’s a complicated question: do our personalities influence whom we turn into, or is it by becoming that we shape our personalities? The story leaves it to the reader to decide why events unfold the way they do.

     The writing style of The Raven and the Loon is straightforward. The authors use short but well-chosen sentences to tell the humorous tale. This picture book, in particular, is one that will be enjoyed as a read-aloud.

     The illustrations by Kim Smith are dynamic; there is a constant feeling of movement guiding the reader from page to page. The colour palette is very simple, and this works very well with the text. It is comprised very basically of white, black and blue, with only a very spare use of earth tones throughout which adds to the clean and sharp feel of the images. There is only one small issue of incongruity with text and illustration that will catch the attentive eye, but, overall, The Raven and the Loon is a delightful fable that entertains the reader and pushes one to think about questions of fate, of chance, and of becoming.


Lara LeMoal holds an MA in Children’s Literature from UBC. She is a writer, an editor and a teacher.

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

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