________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 14. . . . December 8, 2017

cover

Sukaq and the Raven.

Roy Goose & Kerry McCluskey. Artwork by Soyeon Kim.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2017.
36 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-77227-139-3.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

**Ĺ /4

   

 

Two Canadians who make the Arctic their home have created the text for this work published by Inuit owned Inhabit Media. Roy Goose learned the folktale which is at the heart of the book from his great grandmother who was born in the Mackenzie Delta in 1885. Goose collaborates here with Iqaluit based writer Kerry McCluskey and Korean artist Soyeon Kim who lives in Toronto.

     As Anaana (Grandma) recounts:

This is a bedtime story that I heard from a friend of mine, who heard it from his grandmother, who also heard it from someone else. This story is very, very old. One day there was a Raven flying by himself. This was an absolutely enormous raven, the biggest raven that ever, ever existed.

     Raven is a central character in many Inuit and Pacific Northwest native tales, and how he created the world is a well known story. First, Raven makes Earth from a ball of the snow which has collected on his wings as he flies through the heavens. Then the Sun and the Moon are made from orbs dug from Earthís soil. Lastly, a woman is created to be partner to Raven, who can shape shift into human form, his dark wings turning into a beautiful parka. Sleepy Sukaq has imagined himself Ravenís passenger throughout all of this, and, at the end of the ride:

Sukaqís fingers let go of the manís parka and he fell to the ground with a thump so strong that it shook him awake out of his dream. He opened his eyes and looked at his Anaana. He wasnít flying around creating the world with a giant raven. He was tucked into bed

     The combination of a folktale cadence and the more colloquial wording about the boyís dream do not always sit that comfortably together, but the traditional tale is strong enough to carry the book. Kimís collage illustrations with their three dimensional effects reminded me of the work of Elizabeth Cleaver who used First Nations folklore in the 1960ís and 1970ís in The Mountain Goats of Temlaham and The Loonís Necklace. The colour palette is rich, and the skyscapes are transporting. The Raven is oversized in comparison to the humans, a dominant figure whether soaring through the heavens or resting on Earth. Sukaq and the Raven would be a useful addition for larger collections, especially those where stories with Canadian roots are core.

Recommended.

Ellen Heaney is a retired childrenís librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.



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