________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 18. . . . January 12, 2017


Soapstone Porcupine. (Orca Echoes).

Jeff Pinkney. Illustrated by Darlene Gait.
Victoria, BC: Orca, March, 2018.
65 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $6.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1472-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1473-8 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1474-5 (epub).

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Courtney Crocker.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



The new piece of soapstone from my brother stays on my mind. I wonder what carving is inside. Lindy says that whatever the carving is going to be is already there inside the stone. He says that sometimes you might be given a sign and then you will know what to carve.


In Soapstone Porcupine, readers learn about a young boy who accepts a dog into his family. The boy is learning how to carve soapstone from a Cree elder and master carver. Dog in Cree is Atim, and the brothers decide that that is what they will name the dog. While in the woods, the brothers come across a porcupine that, alarmed by the dog, attacks it. Covered in quills, the dog is taken home by the boys who, with help from their mother, remove all of the quills. Throughout this short tale, readers see the young boy becoming more familiar with carving. With guidance and encouragement from Lindy, a visiting elder a friend of the family, the boy continues to carve and create beautiful pieces. The story comes full circle when the narrator spends the day carving for tourists and learns that he needs to stick up for himself to prevent a tourist from taking the carved porcupine which, because of its deep meaning, isnít for sale.

     Gaitís illustrations are black and white detailed sketches. Her images bring to life the story of those in James Bay. Furthermore, these images help early readers comprehend the story.

     Soapstone Porcupine will add value to any school library, public library or home library. Readers will learn about the way of life for people of a James Bay Cree community and learn parts of the Moose Cree language. This book is perfect for the young reader ready to read independently.

Highly Recommended.

Courtney Penney is the Regional Librarian for Central Division with Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries. She lives in Gander, NL.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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