Mamaqtuq! by The Jerry Cans
The Jerry Cans. Mamaqtuq! Illustrated by Eric Kim. Inhabit Media, 2018.
Mamaqtuq! means “delicious”. This delightful Inuit board book tells a simple story of hunting all day for seal, running out of provisions and finally finding and catching a seal. It is written in Inuktitut and English, appropriately, at an early reader level. Erik Kim’s cartoon-like illustrations are bright, fun, and representative of the hunters, their clothing, and the environment. The book contains images of people using hunting rifles, but there are no images of seals being killed. As a stand-alone book it is a very good presentation of traditional hunting.
However, the book is just one half of the story. The authors, The Jerry Cans, are a band from Iqualuit, whose music is a “unique mix of Inuktitut alt-country, throat singing and reggae.” The words in the Mamaqtuq! are the lyrics to a song. You can see the YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DueVqYKWQxE. The piece looks like a skit, with a cardboard boat and people waving cloth to make waves. The seal is played by a young man, so the shooting part is a little more disturbing than in the book. There is also a realistic scene of lead vocalist, Andrew Morrison, eating raw, bloody meat. However, the production is exuberant, even festive, fun, and true to the culture. The book is highly recommended for elementary school libraries and public libraries.
Recommendation: 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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