________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 31. . . .April 17, 2015


The Spirit of the Sea.

Rebecca Hainnu. Illustrated by Hwei Lim.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2014.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-927095-75-1.

Grades 2-6 / Ages 7-11.

Review by Linda Ludke.

*** /4



Long ago, when animals were able to speak with humans, there lived a beautiful young woman called Arnaq. She had lovely brown eyes, smooth, tanned skin, and long shiny black hair. She always wore the most beautiful kamiik and parkas, and she lived happily with her ataata, travelling across the land. Ataata spoiled Arnaq, because her anaana had died when she was very young.


In this Inuit creation legend, beautiful Arnaq is spoiled by her father, Ataata. Many hunters try to court her, but she refuses their advances until a fulmar (a species of sea bird) comes to the camp disguised as a handsome young man. Qaqulluk is a powerful shaman who woos Arnaq with overwrought promises and sweeps her away from her peaceful life Arnaq quickly realizes she has been deceived by her new husband. Instead of having “the best pelts for clothes, and the softest caribou hides for blankets,” her new home is made of “disgusting fish skins.” Depressed, she meekly cries for her father’s help. When Ataata arrives to check on his only child, Arnaq begs to be rescued. A flock of fulmars witness the escape and inform Qaqulluk. In the confrontation that ensues, Qaqulluk creates a violent storm, and Ataata, fearing for his life, forsakes his daughter and throws her overboard, even going so far as cutting off her fingers to keep her from holding on to the boat. Underwater, Arnaq’s fingers transform into whales and seals, and she becomes, Nuliajuq, “the spirit of the sea,” avenging humans who “disrespect the land or the sea.”

      Hwei Lim’s pen and watercolour illustrations showcase the Arctic setting. The underwater perspectives give a glimpse into a vibrant otherworld and feature Nuliajuq’s lair built out of large stones and whalebones. The characters are realistically drawn, and emotions are etched on their faces, from Arnaq’s despondency to Ataata’s fury.

      The oral storytelling tradition is honoured in the text, with Inuktitut words woven seamlessly into the sentences. Informative endnotes include guides to pronunciation as well as meanings. Inhabit Media strives to “preserve and promote the stories, knowledge and talent of Inuit and northern Canada,” and this authentic tale is a welcome addition to school and public library collections.


Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

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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