December 08, 2016

Akilak's Adventure

by Deborah Kigjugalik Webster
Illustrated by Charlene Chua
Inhabit Media
978-1-77227-123-2
32 pp.
Ages 5-7
November 2016

“…your destination is not running away; it will be reached eventually.” (pg. 6)

This is now Akilak’s grandmother reassures the young girl when she sends her off on her own when the older woman injures herself.  Akilak must travel on foot to her uncle’s camp, hopefully reaching it before nightfall, so that she might get food which they had planned on replenishing during a hunting trip, now cancelled.

The journey across the tundra is long but making the acquaintance of Caribou who decides to accompany the young girl on her journey makes the distance more manageable.  As the two companions trek across the northern landscape, Akilak’s imagination has her wondering how much more quickly she could travel as a fish across the water, or a fleet-footed wolf across the land, or as a snow goose across the sky.  But when Caribou asks whether she would really choose to be an animal rather than a human, Akilak understands the value of being exactly who she is.
From Akilak's Adventure 
by Deborah Kigjugalik Webster 
illus. by Charlene Chua
From their shelter to their clothing and footwear, and their habits and the nuance of language, Deborah Kigjugalik Webster has accomplished what she set out to do: told a wonderful story contextualized in Inuit culture.  She may have intended this originally for her daughters but by wrapping in her own Inuit heritage the story of an imaginative young girl with a seemingly daunting task, Deborah Kigjugalik Webster has created a tale that will entertain, teach and inspire all.  Artist Charlene Chua, who has also illustrated Fishing with Grandma (Susan Avingaq and Maren Vsetula, 2016) and Leah’s Mustache Party (Nadia Mike, 2016) for Inhabit Media, adds an effortlessness to the realism of her illustrations.  Though depicting animals with representative flair, Charlene Chua keeps the energy of the story gentle, never miring her art in the enormity of Akilak’s mission but instead illustrating it as the adventure Deborah Kigjugalik Webster, Akilak and Caribou all recognize it to be. I wish I could adequately scan the double-spread illustrations to share the sweetness of Charlene Chua’s cartoon-like creations because they convey more completely the breadth of Akilak’s Adventure than my mere words can.

I’m sorry that I missed announcing the book launch for Akilak's Adventure which was held on November 13, 2016 at Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books in Ottawa but it's better to get the book late rather than never.  Akilak’s Adventure has timeless teachings about responsibility and the importance of imagination to make it a worthwhile read now and always.
From Akilak's Adventure 
by Deborah Kigjugalik Webster 
illus. by Charlene Chua

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