cover image Ahiahia the Orphan

Ahiahia the Orphan

Levi Illuitok, trans. from the Inuktitut by Jeannie Illuitok, illus. by Nate Wells. Inhabit Media, $19.95 (36p) ISBN 978-1-77-227443-1

Illuitok—an elder from Kugaaruk, Nunavut—tells the story of Ahiahia, an Inuit boy who lived with his parents until they were murdered by ill-intentioned intruders, based on a traditional tale. Ahiahia survives and moves in with his grandmother, who weaves protective chants into his clothes and his jewelry, and instructs her stalwart dog to keep Ahiahia safe. As he ages, Ahiahia largely avoids others, knowing that his parents’ murderers “wanted to kill him as well.” With this knowledge, and his grandmother’s blessings, he instead focuses on perfecting his caribou hunting skills. When he reaches adulthood, an argument between him and a neighbor builds until a “young man came out to try to kill Ahiahia.” Wells employs a limited color palette featuring vivid red accents and dynamic paneling that plays into the frenetic energy of this riveting, movement-filled accounting. Efficient text by Illuitok emphasizes Ahiahia’s fear and ever-present feeling of unease, while intuitively providing a glimpse into a community experiencing upheaval amid times of change and loss. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)