May 03, 2013

Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story

by Donald Uluadluak
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Inhabit Media
32 pp.
Ages 4-9

Though Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story is based on an Inuit boy, his dog and his grandfather, the expectations of a young boy for his new pup and the wisdom that an older family member shares could be from any household.

Jake seems frustrated with his restless new puppy, Kamik, who is distracted by new sights, sounds and things upon which to chew.  Jake's declarations that, "He never listens, no matter how loud I yell" or "Get back here!" or "Stop it" has his grandfather, Ataatasiaq, chuckling before sharing with Jake his reminiscences of raising puppies, with the help of his own grandmother and the other women.  While sharing anecdotes with Jake about hunting with his dog team and the many times the dogs helped him out, his grandfather imparts the traditions of communicating with and appreciating one's dogs.  From the naming of pups to cherishing them as if children, his grandfather makes it clear that Kamik will be what Jake makes of him by his relationship with the husky puppy.

Depending on the book cover, author Donald Uluadluak's name may be preceded by the qualifier, "Adapted from the memories of", sharing the credit of Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story with those who shared their wisdom of raising dogs with him. The idea that knowledge is continuously built upon from past generations, perhaps with each new generation taking what works and leaving behind what doesn't, is heartening.  Whether used for raising pups or children or for guiding one's choices, experience is an invaluable teaching tool.  Without taking over Jake's learning, his grandfather steers him with kindness and humility and good old-fashioned common sense to ensure that Kamik is treated well and appreciated wholly for his goodness.  The illustrations by Qin Leng, artist of A Flock of Shoes (Sarah Tsiang, Annick Press, 2010 ) and Dear Baobab (Cheryl Foggo, Second Story Press, 2011), have the perfect light touch for a story that has as strong message about the right way to do something and with compassion to ensure that the reader, and Jake, never feel chastized.

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