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INUNGUAK by Palle Petersen


The Little Greenlander

by Palle Petersen & illustrated by Jens Rosing

Age Range: 6 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-688-09876-2

 Several Inuit legends are interwoven in this story of a boy scorned because he can't hunt or control a dog team. Fascinated by his infirm grandfather's stories, Inunguak seems destined to be a useless mouth to feed, yet the shaman prophesies that he will become great. When European traders arrive, neither Grandfather nor the shaman can restrain the villagers from bartering their best furs and blubber; and the next winter brings starvation. Remembering the ancient stories, Inunguak ventures far out onto the sea ice to petition the Mother of the Sea to send her animals onto his harpoon and save his people. Originally published in Danish, this is reminiscent of DeArmond's The Seal Oil Lamp (1988) in showing an apparently unfit Inuit becoming a hero when his talents save his community. The interpolated stories slow the pace, but each adds to the picture of a culture differing somewhat from the mainland Inuit. Rosing is himself half-Inuit and spent his childhood in Greenland; his full-page paintings, in muted tones of gray, blue, and buff, give a strong sense of its harsh remoteness. (Picture book. 6+)