CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 1. . . .September 9, 2016
A Walk on the Shoreline.
Rebecca Hainnu. Illustrated by Qin Leng.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2015.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.
Review by Stacey Matson.
All along the shoreline, Nukappia saw dried seaweed spread across the beach.
“Is that seaweed the edible kind?” Nukappia asked his uncle. He remembered eating a delicious seaweed soup one summer when he visited.
“Yes,” replied Uncle Angu. “It can be eaten raw or dipped in hot broth or boiling water. Seaweed is not only delicious, it’s also used as medicine. It has lots of nutrients and minerals, so it is good for people need more iron in their diets.”
In A Walk on the Shoreline, Nukappia is visiting his biological family in Nunavut for his yearly summer visit, and, after spending an evening in town, Nukappia sets off with Uncle Angu for a walk along the shore to his family’s summer campsite. It’s an educational walk as Nukappia learns from his Uncle Angu and his cousins about the diverse ecosystem along the northern shoreline.
A Walk on the Shoreline also has a full-colour glossary of the plants and animals that Nukappia encounters along the way, including photographs, quick facts and traditional uses of the plant or animal.
A Walk on the Shoreline is a well-researched, informative and engaging guide to the northern shoreline. The information is well-placed and woven through the text in an engaging manner. The reader gets to learn along with the protagonist, focusing more on the flora and fauna along the way than the rest of the northern setting. This focus on one detail of living in Nunavut works well; it doesn’t try and add too many details, but it provides a thread along the way. The storyline acts as a vehicle for information, and occasionally the text on each page feels long, but overall, A Walk on the Shoreline does a great job of delivering a lot of information in a short book.
The illustrations are full-bleed and full-colour, and the softer blues and browns that dominate are easy to look at, and they don’t overwhelm the informational content of the text but complement the page layouts. The colours and illustrations match the gentle walk along the shoreline, evoking a calm, ocean-like sway in the flow of the book.
The glossary provides more information for either a keen reader or a classroom reference. The use of photographs allows readers to see the items in real life, not just illustration. The information provided is clear and easy to read, and the traditional uses sections provide interesting facts for young readers to retain and share.
Most of all, I appreciated the small details about Nukappia’s life, like the fact that he lives most of the time with his adoptive parents in Ottawa. Small details like this bring to life the many different versions of family that exist today and, with older readers, could work as excellent segues for more in-depth discussions about diversity and life in Canada’s north. It is a complementary book to A Walk on the Tundra.
Stacey Matson is a writer and creative writing teacher living in Vancouver, BC. She recently finished her MA in children’s literature at the University of British Columbia. She is the author of the “Arthur Bean: Total Genius” trilogy, published with Scholastic Canada.
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