________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 8 . . . . December 14, 2001

cover The Polar Bear's Gift.

Jeanne Bushey. Illustrated by Vladyana Langer Krykorka.
Calgary, AB: Red Deer Press, 2000.
32 pp., cloth, $18.95.

ISBN 0-88995-220-5.

Subject Headings:
Inuit-Canada-Juvenile fiction.
Polar bear-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

***1/2 /4

imageexcerpt:

"I would rather hunt a polar bear," Pani exclaimed. "Then we would have plenty of meat for the cooking pot."

"And I would make you a new parka from its thick fur." Ananna said. Then she sighed. "It takes many men and dogs to hunt Nanook. Even then, as you know from the death of your parents. It is not easy to kill a polar bear. You and I must be content with fish and small animals."

"Someday I will hunt Nanook like my parents did."

With this resolve, Pani sets out to provide for her family. She learns to fish and is awarded a lure that belonged to her mother. Her friends taunt her for believing that the lure is magical, and Pani runs out on to the ice where she finds a baby polar bear close to death. Pani's compassion leads her to go beyond her own needs and desires. She heals the bear's wounds and discovers that the bear can communicate with her. The bear's mother rewards Pani with a bag of magic fur. Pani and her grandmother have warm fur and plentiful stew in their pot for the rest of their lives. True to their kind nature, they share their bounty with their community. Jeanne Bushey, who lived in the North for nearly 30 years, has recreated a traditional Inuit legend about compassion and humanity, and about what rewards these qualities can reap. Vladyana Langer Krykorka represents the story in the colours of the Northern Lights. The reader can feel the wind blowing and the stinging snow in the strokes of white that cross each two page spread. Her style adds a mystical element to the legend. Children will enjoy this Arctic tale, a Canadian story. They will worry about Pani's safety when she encounters the bear and its mother, and they will cheer for her when her kindness and bravery are returned.

Highly Recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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