________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 23 . . . . February 20, 2015


The Walrus Who Escaped.

Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley. Illustrated by Anthony Brennan.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2014.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-927095-68-3.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Todd Kyle.

**½ /4



There is Strength in the Land.

This Strength is nothing like the power that makes your muscles move. It's not that kind of strength at all. Instead, it's something that runs through the whole world—even the creatures who live in it. It's as though the Land is alive, listening to every heartbeat on its surface. One might call the Strength "magic." But this would not be describing it very well.

This picture book based on Inuit folklore tells the story of Raven who grows jealous of Walrus' ability to gorge himself on clams by diving to the bottom of the Sea while Raven, herself, has to be content with the muddy clams left over when the tide goes out. When Walrus begins to taunt her, Raven calls to the Strength to freeze the Sea, trapping Walrus in its crust. When Raven's taunting of Walrus becomes too much, Walrus taps the Strength to free himself from the ice, straightening his long, twisted tusks and turning his eyes red with rage. Raven flees far inland while Walrus goes further out to sea, and the two continue to live apart to this day.

      Told in a poetic and evocative voice, The Walrus Who Escaped is a traditional Inuit origin story that exemplifies the richness of the culture and its ties to the land, mixing survival, magic, and animal mythology. Occasionally, though, the story is less than perfectly effective. Raven taunts Walrus that she will soon know the taste of the wonderful sea bottom clams, but readers are left to wonder how she would now reach them if she cannot dive and the Sea is now frozen over. When Walrus escapes before she can eat any clams, there is no suggestion that it was her need for revenge that lost her the opportunity.

      The illustrations, while respectful of the story and its origins, are somewhat cartoonish and one dimensional; Walrus, for example, appears more miffed than enraged when he is trapped in the ice. Still, Raven's daunting power and Walrus' strength are effectively portrayed. As a story that is Aboriginal both in inspiration and in creation, The Walrus Who Escaped fills an important need very well.


Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario.

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
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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