WATER SKY by Jean Craighead George
Kirkus Star

WATER SKY

illustrated by

KIRKUS REVIEW

George, known for fine fiction with carefully researched natural history as a theme, won a Newbery for Julie of the Wolves; in this new story, also set in the far north, Lincoln Noah Stonewright, named at the request of his father's Eskimo mentor, Vincent, for the great protectors of men and of animals, comes from his Massachusetts home to Barrow to meet Vincent and find his beloved Uncle Jack, already in Alaska to save the bowhead whale from extinction. Met by young Kusik, Lincoln is immediately drawn into an Eskimo whale hunt captained by Vincent, now terminally ill. Although initially opposed to the hunt, intimate acquaintance with the whaling camp and a variety of Eskimos including Ukpik, a girl his own age who is both a fervent advocate of the old ways and an aspirant to a graduate degree at Harvard. makes Lincoln rethink his assumptions. In a beautifully written climax, he is essential to the capture of the crew's annual whale. There are many threads to this complex novel, all serving both the adventure of the whale hunt and the detailed, authentic depiction of contemporary Eskimo life, with the contradictions of the persistence of traditional ways and the presence of such modern items as CBs, up-to-date schools, snowmobiles and TV. The gentle custom of withholding praise, blame, and even instruction except by wordless example as described, should make readers reconsider our more didactic ways. Questions of death and rebirth, cooperation as a way of survival and a way to achieve a sense of community, and the true meaning of research and conservation are posed by the events George describes so vividly. Readers will be the richer for pondering them.
Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
ISBN: 0064402029
Page count: 228pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1987




JEAN CRAIGHEAD GEORGE, 1919-2012:

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