December 05, 2016

Kamik Joins the Pack

by Darryl Baker
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Inhabit Media
978-1-77227-125-7
32 pp.
Ages 4-9
October 2016

Like Inhabit Media’s original Kamik story (Kamit, An Inuit Puppy Story by Donald Uluadluak, 2012), and its sequel (Kamik’s First Sled by Matilda Sulurayok, 2015), Kamik Joins the Pack is adapted from the memories of the author, here from Darryl Baker, an Inuit teacher and dog musher who learned about raising dogs from his late brother-in-law Bernie Sulurayok.  In Kamik Joins the Pack, Jake now is learning from his uncle how to care for his dog, Kamik, to help the husky ultimately become part of a team.

From Kamik Joins the Pack 
by Darryl Baker
illus. by Qin Leng
Jake is proud to show his uncle how well behaved Kamik is, hopeful that his puppy would lead the boy’s own dogsled team one day.  Jake’s uncle, well-versed in raising dogs to be mushers, demonstrates to Jake that there is more to making a dog a musher than just putting a harness on.  He teaches him about keeping Kamik healthy by checking his nails and paws and ensuring that he is always well fed.  He also indicates that Jake must learns some additional skills like braiding and repairing leather for harnesses, repairing a sled and building shelter for his dogs if the boy is to become a successful musher like his uncle.  But, the ultimate test comes when Jake’s uncle adds Kamik to the end of his own pack to see how well the puppy fares in a trial run.

From Kamik Joins the Pack 
by Darryl Baker 
illus. by Qin Leng
There are many Inuit and children of northern climes for whom this story will resonate.  They will recognize the landscape, the dogs, the mushing, and the wisdom imparted by Jake’s uncle, lessons which author Darryl Baker undoubtedly learned from his accomplished brother-in-law. But every child will recognize the value of caring for one’s animals and the skill-building necessary to ensure their well-being.  Kamik Joins the Pack is both a story of lessons and hope, about a future and achievement that comes from doing things well and in small steps.  Darryl Baker makes sure that readers get this message, just as Jake’s uncle emphasizes the same to his nephew.  But while teaching important lessons, Kamik Joins the Pack has a light story-telling feel to it, more sharing than preaching, and much of this has to do with Qin Leng’s artwork.  Just as she illustrated Kamik, An Inuit Puppy Story and Kamik's First Sled, Qin Leng uses the almost weightless touch of fountain brush and ink with high-contrast colours against the snowy background to keep the story graceful and self-assured, not unlike Jake’s uncle’s teaching.  Kamik is growing up and young readers, both those familiar with his home and those of more southern habitats, will enjoy watching his progress.

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