The Orphan and the Polar Bear

Sakiasi Qaunaq, illus. by Eva Widermann. Inhabit Media (www.inhabitmedia.com), $13.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-92656-944-4
Qaunaq, an Inuit elder, retells a traditional story about an orphaned boy who is educated in the ways of being “a man and a capable hunter” by a wise polar bear. Both the folkloric narrative and lush artwork command attention, though the story itself may puzzle readers at times. The unnamed orphan lives with his grandmother and a group of hunters; the boy accompanies the men on walrus-hunting expeditions, but they abandon him after each one (why is never made clear), forcing him to find his way back alone. On one occasion, the boy is confronted by a polar bear that briefly transforms into a man, then takes the boy back to a bear colony where the boy learns to defend himself. In the book’s most dramatic but fuzzy sequence, the boy kills an aggressor polar bear; soon after, the bear resurrects itself and, after screaming angrily for the boy, suddenly extends the paw of friendship. Widermann’s dramatic and sharply drawn pictures of the bears and the icy polar landscape go a long way toward smoothing over the story’s rougher patches. Ages 6–10. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/07/2013
Release date: 05/01/2012
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-1-77227-229-1
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