Families by JU. Mike and K. McCluskey
Mike, Jesse Unaapik and Kerry McCluskey. Families. Inhabit Media, 2017.
The Inuit have always relied on a variety of family and community structures to raise children and ensure survival. Historically, given high death and disease rates, the need to go to larger centres for extended medical treatment, and long periods spent on the land, it was not unusual for children to be raised or partially raised by grandparents, aunts and uncles, or older siblings. Inuit traditional “custom adoption” practices allowed for child-rearing to be spread throughout families.
In Families, Jesse Unaapik Mike explores a variety of families that are present in Inuit communities. The story is a first day of school scenario. During the day, a young boy, Talittuq, who lives alone with his mother while his father lives in another community, meets several children including those who live with two parents or step-parents, those who spend time with parents living in different places, and children living with grandparents. Mike also introduces what I believe to be the first instance of same-sex parents in an Inuit children’s picture book, when Talittuq meets Qaukkai, who has two Moms. There is an added twist in that Qaukkai has been adopted through a custom adoption process, giving her three mothers.
While Lerry Lishchenko’s drawings are cartoon-like, the characters are drawn realistically. The colours are attractive and the images mesh well with the concepts in the text.
This is a good book, where children from many different living arrangements will see themselves reflected. Highly recommended for public libraries and 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.
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