Surrounded by the people she loves, Ukpik finds her traditional Inuit village changing as southern traders reach her homeland.
Based on the author’s memories, this picture book documents the jarring effects of contemporary culture on an Inuit child living in the farthest reaches of North America. It is summertime, and young Ukpik is delighted with her new husky puppy. As she goes about her chores on the open tundra, she ponders what to call him. She runs through her list of potential names—boss, sweetie, toy, pretty—offering readers an Inuktitut language lesson before a ship arrives. Suddenly, her father, or ataata, is shouting orders. Everyone in her camp is bustling about in preparation for the visitors, and Ukpik’s new dog is eclipsed for a moment by other novelties. Ataata trades his sealskins and fox furs for never-before-seen utensils: knives, forks, and spoons. Initially excited by them, Ukpik begins to feel anxious as she realizes the items represent an unseen world lurking at the boundary of her own. The book’s final pages contain a deeply touching moment as Ukpik’s uncertainty forces her to lean on the wisdom of her grandmother, who gives her advice about the permanence of love in the face of monumental change. Simple yet realistic cartoon illustrations of the isolated northern tundra complement the book’s thematic content without overpowering the author’s unique perspective.
A meaningful portrait of a young child living and loving in a unique period of North American history. (Picture book. 5-7)