Kiviuq and the Bee Woman by N. McDermott
McDermott, Noel. Kiviuq and the Bee Woman. Iqauit, NU, Inhabit Media, 2019.
When we last heard of Kiviuq, he had just survived a harrowing encounter with scary monster mermaids or tuutalik (Deakin Review by Kirk MacLeod). In Kiviuq and the Bee Woman, the grandfather who narrated Kiviuq and the Mermaid continues the bedtime story to his grandchildren. Kiviuq begins paddling home, but comes upon a tent where an old woman invites him to rest and dry his clothing. She turns out to be a giant Bee Woman who wants to cut up Kiviuq and put him in her cooking pot.
For a bedtime story, both the text and the illustrations are quite scary. Illustrator Toma Feizo Gas lets us see into the dark, dramatic and frightening world of the Bee Woman, who is a determined killer. “She shouted, ‘I am Iguttarjuaq, the Bee Woman, and I am going to kill you with my ulu’.” The accompanying image shows a woman with pointy teeth and insect mouth pincers, who is shaking a sharp ulu (knife) at Kiviuq.
As is the case with many of Inhabit Media’s publications, the reading level is higher than one would expect to find in a picture book. For younger children, this book will need some adult intervention. In addition to the scary content, human skulls talk, the woman eats her own eyelids and “Kiviuq, realized the woman was boiling human meat.” Some of the language is difficult. For example, Kiviuq “fainted” of fright, but “feinted” to get away. McDermott also intersperses many Inuktitut words, which will slow down younger readers. These are defined at the end of the book.
Overall, this excellent product from Inhabit Media should be included in public library collections and school library collections, but should probably be placed in collections designed for older children.
Highly recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
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.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).