________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 34. . . .May 12, 2017


The Caterpillar Woman.

Nadia Sammurtok. Illustrated by Carolyn Gan.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2016.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-77227-083-9.

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Jill Griffith.

*** /4



Piujuq wasn’t sure at first if she should trade parkas with a stranger. Tarraq’s jacket looked very thin, and it was made from skins that Piujuq had never seen before. But Piujuq eventually agreed because she did not want Tarraq to be cold. Piujuq was a kind young woman, and was known in her camp for being very giving and helpful to others.


Piujuq, a beautiful and kind young Inuit woman, trades her coat with a stranger and becomes a “caterpillar woman”. Through the love and promise of a hunter named Amaruq who sees beyond her frightening appearance, both are transformed by the power of the magic of their ancestors.

     The full-page illustrations by Carolyn Gan belie that this is her first book. The watercolours express the vast and beautiful land of Piujuq as well as the emotion of the characters in the story. The illustrations add strength to the story and vary in colour, mood and movement. Stunning.

     The author, Nadia Sammurtok, is “passionate about preserving the traditional Inuit lifestyle and Inuktitut language so they may be enjoyed by future generations” (taken from the Contributors page), and she has done that by interpreting a traditional Inuit story in The Caterpillar Woman. The theme of the book is universal – the importance of looking past appearances. The beauty of kindness is also a prevailing message throughout the story. With a message for all, the book is suitable for an older audience due to its length, theme and reading level. Having said that, it was written as if it was meant to be read aloud, or “told”, in the oral tradition which would add to the power of the words of the story.

     The only quarrel I have with the book is the small size of the print. The story is necessarily long and the illustrations are predominant which may explain the font decision.

     An Inuktitut Pronunciation Guide at the end of the book is a welcome addition, as is this story to the growing body of work from Inuit writers.


Jill Griffith is the Youth Services Manager at Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.

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.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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