Imarvaluk fears for the safety of her island home off the coast of Alaska.
Imarvaluk’s Alaskan Native people, the Inupiat, have lived near the sea since the beginning of memory. Her name in English means “the song of the waves,” but though she loves her name, she finds it hard to continue to love the ocean. Her family lives on a small island, Sarichef, so small it would be a tiny speck on any map of the Arctic Circle. The Inupiat people have adopted many modern ways: “We no longer live in igloos,” Imarvaluk tells readers, but in wooden houses, and most prefer snowmobiles to their traditional dog sleds. Her grandfather’s dogs used to scare Imarvaluk, but now she is more afraid the encroaching sea will soon devour their island home. Outsiders studying the phenomenon have explained how climate change is causing the glaciers to melt and the sea to rise. The villagers are moving many houses, including Imarvaluk’s, inland, but they also understand someday they will have to leave their homeland—and their traditional ways—behind. Although it perpetuates the myth that igloos were or are permanent domiciles, Pasquet’s moving story does introduce the concept of climate change, and its imminent catastrophic impact on many indigenous communities, to young readers. Arbona’s illustrations are by turns lyrical and frightening, truly indicative of the themes of the book.
A moving if oversimplified look at a very real threat. (Picture book. 4-8)