The Owl and the Lemming by R. Akulukjuk
Akulukjuk, Roselynn. The Owl and the Lemming, illustrated by Amanda Sandland, Inhabit Media, 2016.
The Owl and the Lemming is a traditional Inuit fable, and is based off of Roselynn Akulukjuk’s live-action and puppetry short film of the same name. This is a simple story of pride getting in the way of a tasty dinner on the Arctic tundra.
After a long winter, Lemming comes out of her burrow to gorge herself on the tasty moss. Owl, who is also hungry, sees Lemming, and blocks the entrance to her home. Unable to pass, Lemming realizes she will have to trick Owl into moving away from her home. She suggests to Owl that he lean back, and look up into the blue sky - “No way! I am not stupid!” She then suggests that Owl wait for a fatter lemming to come by - “Why would I want to wait for a lemming that might never come out when I can just eat you?” Finally, Lemming suggests they have a contest to see who can jump the highest.
The book is written simply enough that it could be used for children to practice their reading, though the text size is small and compact, making pointing a challenge. The illustrations are a combination of photographs of the tundra landscape, with Owl and Lemming superimposed as cartoon figures, which makes for an odd juxtaposition. However, the cartoons do allow for Owl and Lemming to show their personalities and reactions to their respective predicaments.
Overall, this is an entertaining story, and the illustrations help to root it in the Inuit tradition. This book would do well in both schools and public libraries.
Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Andrea Quaiattini
Andrea Quaiattini is a Public Services Librarian at the University of Alberta’s JW Scott Health Sciences Library. While working as a camp counsellor, she memorized Mortimer and The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch as bedtime stories for the kids. She can still do all the voices.
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