THE SPIRIT OF THE SEA by Rebecca Hainnu


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 9
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A popular Inuit cautionary legend, featuring a haughty young woman and a gruesome climactic twist.

Arnaq will accept no suitor, until a shaman sea bird disguised as a handsome young man sweeps her away with glittering promises to a wretched, reeking tent on a distant shore. When her father arrives to rescue her, the shaman raises such a storm that her terrified dad casts her overboard—and cuts off her fingers to keep her from holding on to the boat. Those fingers are transformed into whales and seals, and she, into a testy spirit named Nuliajuq, who calls up storms on all who “disrespect the land or the sea.” This and other modern-sounding lines (“Eventually Arnaq succumbed to complete depression”) give the otherwise formal narrative a playfully anachronistic air that may or may not be intentional. Lim illustrates the tale in a realistic rather than stylized way, using flowing lines and brush strokes to depict natural settings, faces, Arnaq’s lustrous locks (and, though seen only from a distance, fingerless hands), and a range of accurately detailed arctic and sea animals. In an afterword, the author explains that the sea spirit goes by several regional names; a pronunciation guide to Inuktitut words in this version is also included.

A fresh, if not quite as seamless, alternative to Robert D. and Daniel San Souci’s Song of Sedna (1981). (Picture book/folk tale. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-927095-75-1
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Inhabit Media
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2015


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