AKAVAK: An Eskimo Journey by James Houston
Kirkus Star

AKAVAK: An Eskimo Journey

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Grandfather must see his brother before he dies and Akavak must take him although, as his mother says, the one is too old, the other too young. His father warns that his grandfather's spirit may wander, warns him also to stay away from the mountains. After six days crossing frozen seas comes one obstacle -- a bear has found their cache of walrus meat -- and then another -- the ice of the big fjord is too thin to traverse. Either they return home or go upriver and across the mountains. Akavak will not be a coward, his grandfather has confidence --also a love for the heights and the open plateau that Akavak ultimately shares. The sled with their equipment and all but one dog fall into a crevasse but they keep working, make a staff from an old musk-ox hide, cups from its horns, a spearhead from a stone; his grandfather spent, Akavak retrieves the sled, harnesses himself in with the remaining dog, and manages the last headlong descent from the mountains to his uncle's village. His grandfather dies lashed to the sled during the plunge but it is a measure of the people (and the story) that there is sorrowing but no regret. Like The White Ancher (1967), vivid, compact, forceful.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1968
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World