Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Curse of the Shaman: A Marble Island Story by Michael Kusugak

Love it!!! Only put it down once as my family demanded feeding.
This is the story of Qavvik (Wolverine) and his father Qabluittug(the man with no eyebrows). They live in the far North of Hudson Bay in an area near Rankin Inlet, the author's home. When he is three days old, Qavvik is cursed by the Shaman such that when he becomes a man old enough to marry he will never set foot on that land again.
For the next 15 years we follow Qavvik and his family along their yearly migrations. It was interesting to learn about their lifestyle as it is so different from the city life that many of us lead. Not only the hunting and fishing, but the frequent making of their snow houses and gatherings with other travelling families, particularly their meetings with the Shaman and his family.
I was most impressed with how Qabluittug dealt with the curse. He managed to keep those words spoken in anger separate from his everyday dealing with Paaliaq who is also the Shaman.
The story also explores the power of the growing love between Qavvik and Breath (the Shaman's daughter). A third important theme is that of compassion, which is shown by Qavvik toward an injured snowy owl.
While this book is marketed as a youth novel, it certainly has enough depth to keep the interest of adult readers. Be sure to read the Preface and the after notes as they contain wonderful information.
If you chose to read this book, I suggest you immediately turn to the inside back cover. There you will find the most amazing portrait of the author Michael Kusugak.
My daughter was privileged to meet Mr. Kusugak when he visited her school last year to share some of his stories.
This is my 6th book for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.


John Mutford said...

Hi Heather,
I lived in Rankin Inlet for 4 years and met Michael on a few ocassions. I've read most of his picture books, but apparently he has a new one called The Sled Dog that I haven't read yet. Nor have I gotten around to this one yet-- though I have been to Marble Island. It was an amazing place. I don't know if this was mentioned anywhere in the book but for first time visitors to the island, legend requires that you have to first crawl upon your elbows so as not to meet with bad luck.

Heather said...

yes, the legend was mentioned in the book and Wolverine did crawl onto the island. I tried to look Marble Island up in my atlas. As detailed as it is, I think the island was pictured but not named.