CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 14. . . . December 8, 2017
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:
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:
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.
Ellen Heaney is a retired childrenís librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.