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The Qalupalik by E. Kilabuk

Kilabuk, Elisha.  The Qalupalik. Iqaluit:  Inhabit Media Inc., 2011. Print.

This volume is the first in the Unikkaakuluit Series from Inhabit Media.  It is currently available in English and South Baffin Inuktitut editions, with other Inuktitut dialects in the works.   Contemporary Inuit storyteller, Elisha Kilabuk, leads off this series with a story that he learned from his mother, who learned it from her father.

It is not unusual to find a myth appearing in different cultures or subcultures in different forms.  This cautionary story is about the qalupalik has many variants.  The qalupalik is a scary monster that lives under the sea ice, and captures small children who wander too close to the water.  The monster is outwitted by a small orphan child, who convinces the creature that his toes, which are poking out of his shoes, will eat her.

Inhabit Media has recently published similar stories in Stories of the Amautalik: Fantastic Beings from Inuit Myths and Legends.    In that version, the creature comes from underground, but is still outwitted by a child who tells the creature that his toes eat Amautaliks.

The Qalupalik is a single story in a picture book.   There are a few sentences on each text page and a full colour image on the facing page.  Joy Ang’s artwork is evocative and effective.  Her qalupalik is green and slimy with a huge nose, white eyes, webbed feet and long claws.  It is scary enough to keep any child from roaming too close to the water’s edge.  The images of this disgusting creature will also cause this book to be in high demand among those 6 to 8 year olds who love “gross” pictures.  In contrast to the qalupalik, Ang’s images of the children are more cartoon-like and light-hearted.  They are a nice balance to the scary monster.  While the text will be too difficult for early readers, the images tell the story and the book will work well as a “read aloud”.

Overall The Qalupalik is an excellent presentation of the myth and is recommended for public and elementary school libraries.

Highly Recommended:  4 stars out of 4
Reviewer:  Sandy Campbell

Sandy is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Alberta, who has written hundreds of book reviews across many disciplines.  Sandy thinks that sharing books with children is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.