Quinuitug (deep patience), nukilik (strength) and silatuyok (intelligence) are traits 16-year-old Piturnuq (Pitu) demonstrates as he harpoons his first seal of the season, providing food for his Inuit community and becoming known as a great hunter. He brings pride to his family and wins affection from Samia, the girl he wants to marry. His abilities catch elder Tagagg’s attention, who decides to train Pitu to one day take his place.
During training, Tagagg senses a darkness in Pitu’s future and a tirigannaiaq (fox) appears in Pitu’s dream. Tagagg predicts that Pitu will have to travel to the spirit world to save a shaman named Tatuq who disappeared long ago. In a violent blizzard, Pitu is separated from his hunting party and is transported to the spirit world.
But does Pitu have what it takes to survive? Join Pitu and Tiri, his spirit guide, on this action-packed adventure as he battles to stay alive against qallupilluit (creatures that lure children onto the ice to steal them), amaruq (wolves, in this case gigantic black wolves with red menacing eyes), and an Inukpak (giant). Pitu finds Tatuq and begins an apprenticeship in the spirit world to learn what he requires to safely return home to the ones he loves. If Pitu does not learn, he and Tatuq will remain trapped in the spirit world forever.
This award-winning novel is suitable for students in Grades seven and eight. The book can be used to teach intermediate language, history, geography and science. Survival, leadership, culture, community and the environment are topics to explore in read-aloud or small reading groups. This book could be used to spark inquiry projects in geography, history and science to study the impact the environment has on the community, Inuit perspectives in Canadian history and the role of climate change in the north. This story is full of uakallangaak (surprises) and is alianait (a joy) to read!
Anna Armstrong is a member of the Upper Grand Teacher Local.