A pair of young siblings from Arviq Bay in northern Canada learn about an Inuit bogeyman.
This easy-to-read graphic novel, set in the snowy Arctic tundra, tells the story of an imaginative brother named Putuguq who wants nothing more than to tag along with his older sister, Kublu, when she heads out to the shoreline to meet a friend. A contemporary rendition of an age-old myth, the story depicts their grandfather coming home from the hunt with a seal pulled behind his snowmobile. He tells them to beware the qalupalik, a sea monster with long fingernails, slimy skin, and locks of hair dripping down its back. Frightened by his cautionary tale, the siblings approach the water’s edge, where they find their friend’s backpack abandoned on the ice and receive the scare of their lives. While the siblings are given distinctive personality traits, their wry dialogue may strike readers as formal (“Brother, you are a strange one”), especially for characters who should be around 5 and 6. Simple block panels and emojilike illustrations also detract from their appeal, though the depictions of the imagined qalupalik and the Tuniq hunter Putuguq pretends to be are stunning in their monochromatic purple shades. The layout of their village is mapped in the opening pages—the careful inclusion of raised, wood-frame buildings with no igloo in sight adds to the educational value of the story.
Ultimately, humor rules the day as Putuguq and Kublu’s grandfather tricks them into being safe when they play near the water. (Graphic fiction. 5-7)