Chia, an orphaned boy, is used to going to bed unloved and hungry until the night he hears an unusual noise.
Alone and with no one to care for him, Chia seeks refuge in the house of a rich man of the village, as is the custom. This winter, however, life is rough for everyone: Hunters and fishermen work hard, but they return home at night empty-handed. Still, Chia, like all the villagers, has chores to be done: cutting firewood, hauling water, feeding the dogs. One night, a fierce wind blasts open the door, and the rich man shouts for him to latch it. Chia will, but first he has a hunch. Going into the storm, he discovers Fox Man chopping at a glacier with a duguli. Spontaneously, Chia seizes the axe, reasoning that without it, Fox Man cannot continue causing the wind and snow. Chia narrates his story in the first person, describing his distress when Fox Man confronts him back in the rich man’s house, demanding his duguli back; he needs it for his work. Chia understands he’s done wrong and returns the tool—and the villagers’ fortunes improve. The Atwaters retell this Alaskan Dena’ina teaching story, learned from their great uncle, folding Dena’ina words in where appropriate. (Phonetic pronunciations are provided on the page, and there is a glossary in the backmatter.) Dwyer’s muted but lively use of color and line brings the story to life.
Gracefully teaches a critical life lesson. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8)