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The Qalupalik.

The Qalupalik

Written by Elisha Kilabuk illustrated by Joy Ang Inhabit Media Inc., 2011 978-1-926569-31-4 (hc) $12.95 for Grades 1 to 3

Picture Book | Inuit Mythology | Monsters

The Legend of the Fog

Written by Qaunaq Mikkigak and Joanne Schwartz illustrated by Danny Christopher Inhabit Media Inc., 2011 978-1-926569-45-1 (hc) $13.95 for Grades 3 to 6

Picture Book | Inuit Mythology | Monsters

The focus of Inhabit Media is to acquaint modern-day readers with the rich tradition of Inuit storytelling and to ensure that aspects of Inuit oral history are preserved for future generations. Here are two creative publications that pertain to Arctic mythological creatures.

The Qalupalik is an evil monster living beneath the icy ocean's surface. Children are admonished not to wander close to the water's edge for fear the qalupalik will kidnap them and carry them far out to sea. One spring day as the ice is breaking up, three children ignore this warning and play on the beach. When the qalupalik is spotted, they flee from the shore. Unfortunately, one orphan boy is captured because the holes in his kamiik (boots) slow him down. The monster becomes intrigued with the boy's bare feet, and the orphan cleverly devises an opportunity to escape by threatening that his toes will devour the beast. The frightened qalupalik disappears into the water--without the child.

Iqaluit-born performer and storyteller Elisha Kilabuk animates our senses through his spare, yet vivid, retelling of this traditional tale. Through his words we can see, hear and feel what is transpiring: "The qalupaliit make strange sounds that can be heard coming from under the ice. They sound similar to underwater air bubbles, like 'biibii ... biibii ... biibii ... '" Joy Ang's eerie digital illustrations of the menacing qalupalik--its slimy green skin, webbed feet and empty eyes--will linger on in readers' memories long after the book has been set aside.

The Legend of the Fog also concerns a monster, though the tone here is definitely more sinister than in The Qalupalik. A young man named Quannguaviniq walks on the tundra, meeting there an enormous tuurngaq, a demonic spirit in the shape of a hideous giant. Fearing that the tuurngaq will kill him, Quannguaviniq lies upon the ground, pretending to be frozen to death. Fooled, the monster carries the man to his family, where they wait for the body to thaw before devouring him. As the family sleeps, Quannguaviniq plans his escape. He beheads the tuurngaq and runs out into the darkness, only to be followed relentlessly by the giant's terrifying wife. The ever resourceful young man urges her to drink all the water from a river until she explodes. The steam emanating from her body creates a thick fog over the land, this for the very first time.

From the opening sentence, Nunavut storyteller Qaunaq Mikkigak, together with Toronto librarian and author Joanne Schwartz, entrances us with the retelling of this centuries-old Inuit tale. Readers will experience good versus evil, the force of nature and plenty of suspense. Details such as "The cry of the raven pierced the silence. Then it was quiet again," contribute greatly to the richness of the text.

Danny Christopher's digital and watercolour illustrations effectively portray the barren and haunting Arctic environment. Although most of the story takes place at night, Christopher masterfully employs the shards of light radiating from the moonlight and campfire to outline the ghostly setting and characters.

Both the "qalupalik" and "tuurngaq" will now become better known within the lexicon of Canadian mythology as a result of these two fine publications.


Please note: Some tables or figures were omitted from this article.
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Article Details
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Author:Ross, Senta
Publication:Canadian Children's Book News
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2012
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