cover image Arctic Son

Arctic Son

Jean Craighead George, Wendell Minor. Hyperion Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0315-6

Newbery Medalist George (Julie of the Wolves)--with Aalak, an Inupiat Eskimo as guide--takes young nature-lovers on a tour of the North in this picture-book ode to the Arctic. When Luke is born in a small Arctic town, the village leader, Aalak, gives him an Eskimo name, that of Aalak's own father, Kupaaq. With this special bond (""Hello, Papa"", says Aalak), Aalak introduces little Kupaaq to his Arctic landscape and Inupiat Eskimo customs: the winter night with stars like ""enormous bonfires"" (""That is Kinuyakkii. Some call this brightness the northern lights. You and I live where the lights are born""); a sigluaq, a pit 20 feet in the frozen ground (""my Eskimo refrigerator"") where Aalak keeps his catch from an ice-fishing trip; and a Nalukataq, the celebration after a whale hunt. George's text, abundant with vital experiences and detailed descriptions of daily life, is fodder for Minor's (Everglades) watercolors, luminous as the northern lights, that bring the Arctic's palate to life. His paintings range from a double-page blue vault of stars over simple wood-frame homes with a polar bear muzzle forging into the foreground; to children mushing one-dog sleds against a pink dusk horizon line; to little Kupaaq airbound in the Nalukataq blanket toss. George and Minor's invitation to the Arctic's extreme climate and extraordinary wildlife make this a trip well worth taking. All ages. (Sept.)