Inuit, literally meaning the people, are native to the Arctic circle of North America. With a distinct history and culture, they are sometimes mistakenly referred to as ‘Eskimos.’ Here at Cardinal Rule Press, we are excited to learn more about Inuit traditions with these five outstanding picture books by, about, and for Inuit communities.
Stories About Inuit History
NOT MY GIRL BY CHRISTY JORDAN-FENTON (AUTHOR), MARGARET-OLEMAUN POKIAK-FENTON (AUTHOR), GABRIELLE GRIMAND (ILLUSTRATOR)
Margaret can’t wait to see her family, but her homecoming is not what she expected. Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and complemented by evocative illustrations, Not My Girl makes the original, award-winning memoir, A Stranger at Home, accessible to younger children. It is also a sequel to the picture book When I Was Eight. A poignant story of a determined young girl’s struggle to belong, it will both move and inspire readers everywhere.
Traditional Inuit Tales
THE POLAR BEAR SON: AN INUIT TALE BY LYDIA DABCOVICH (AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR)
A lonely old woman adopts, cares for, and raises a polar bear as if he were her own son, until jealous villagers threaten the bear’s life, forcing him to leave his home and his “mother,” in a retelling of a traditional Inuit folktale.
THE FOX WIFE HARDCOVER BY BEATRICE DEER (AUTHOR), DJ HERRON (ILLUSTRATOR)
One cloudless night, a fox falls to earth and comes across a family of humans. As the seasons change and they move their camp, she follows them, growing ever more intrigued by human ways―and especially by the oldest son, Irniq. When Irniq grows older and sets out hunting on his own, he is surprised to enter his tent one day and find the lamp lit, the tea made… and a strange woman who says she is his wife. Tired of being alone, Irniq welcomes the woman. But soon he grows curious and cannot stop himself from asking too many questions. Where did the fox pelt hanging in their tent come from? And why did the fox that had been following him suddenly disappear? Based on award-winning musician Beatrice Deer’s powerful song “Fox,” this graphic novel reinterprets a traditional Inuit story for a new generation.
Stories by Modern Inuit Writers
SWEETEST KULU BY CELINA KALLUK (AUTHOR), ALEXANDRIA NEONAKIS (ILLUSTRATOR)
“Dream a little, Kulu, this world now sings a most beautiful song of you.”
This beautiful bedtime poem, written by acclaimed Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk, describes the gifts given to a newborn baby by all the animals of the Arctic.
Lyrically and tenderly told by a mother speaking to her own little Kulu; an Inuktitut term of endearment often bestowed upon babies and young children, this visually stunning book is infused with the traditional Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants.
A perfect gift for new parents.
WHAT’S MY SUPERPOWER? BY AVIAQ JOHNSTON (AUTHOR), TIM MACK (ILLUSTRATOR)
Nalvana feels like all of her friends have some type of superpower. She has friends with super speed (who always beat her in races), friends with super strength (who can dangle from the monkey bars for hours), and friends who are better than her at a million other things. Nalvana thinks she must be the only kid in town without a superpower. But then her mom shows Nalvana that she is unique and special, and that her superpower was right in front of her all along.
Still want to learn more? Check out these free videos on Inuit music and throat singing!
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Blogger’s note: While researching children’s books for this article, I originally set out to find books by or about any people native to modern-day Alaska. However, despite hours of searching, I could not find a single picture book on native Alaskan culture south of the Inupiat, including from the Aluet, Yuit, Athabascans, Tlingit, and Haida. Even the few books I found on Inuit culture could largely be traced back to concerted efforts by the Canadian territory of Nunavut. To me, this inaccessibility is yet another example of why diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts must be at the forefront of the publishing industry—and especially children’s publishing. CRP hopes to help fill these gaps through our DEI efforts and asks picture book authors from underrepresented backgrounds to please submit your work to us during our next submission period.
Martina Rethman is an editorial intern with Cardinal Rule Press. She is currently a senior at Carnegie Mellon University.
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