Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? Traditional Inuit stories have been passed on from one generation to another through vivid, oral storytelling usually accompanied with instruments and emotional gestures and voices. In this story, Maika Harper takes a story that she heard as a child and puts it in book form for all to enjoy. The Walrus and the Caribou is a story of how these two animals acquired their particular features–because it was not always that way!
When the world was still being formed, a woman named Guk wanted to create some animals. She took off her sealskin parka and breathed into the fabric, ultimately creating the shape of a walrus. This walrus looked like the walrus we know today except instead of huge tusks it had large antlers on top of its head. This became a problem for hunters in kayaks because the antlers would tip over the kayaks while the walrus were swimming below the surface of the water. Next, Guk decided to create another animal by blowing into her sealskin pants. This created the caribou but instead of antlers, this caribou had tusks. This was a danger to humans, so now Guk had to make some changes. She switched the tusks and antlers and each animal went on their own way. She scolded the caribou for hurting the humans so now the caribou stay as far away from humans as possible.
The illustrations provided by Marcus Cutler show a wide range of emotions in Guk, the walrus, and the caribou. Creativity, cleverness, frustration, and finally success are all shown in the expressions of these characters during the beginning stages of their formation. I think this leads the story to be read aloud with a great deal of emotion and animation which I believe is the original intent of Inuit storytelling.
Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing
To whom would you recommend this book? This story would be perfect for children between the ages of three and six, especially if they are interested in Inuit culture. Also, children who enjoy myths and fables will enjoy this as well.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, daycare centers, preschools, anyone who works with children between the ages of three and six.
Where would you shelve it? Picture Books
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.
Date of review: January 28, 2020