November 20, 2018

The Origin of Day and Night

Written by Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt
Illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko
Inhabit Media
36 pp.
Ages 4-8
September 2018

In these days of daylight savings, the story of The Origin of Day and Night feels all the more relevant. For those of us in southern Ontario, complaining about how early it gets dark seems like an annual event–though, of course, this would be accentuated in the north–but what of animals who prefer only daylight or only nighttime for their activities?
At the very beginning of time, there was no light on earth. Darkness surrounded everything. Only nocturnal animals, those who could see in the dark, could easily hunt for food. (pg. 2)
From The Origin of Day and Night by Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt, illus. by Lenny Lishchenko
Tiri, the Arctic fox, was one of those nocturnal creatures, hunting those and from those that slept. When Tiri celebrated the darkness by calling out, "Taaq, taaq, taaq! Darkness, darkness, darkness!" the darkness remained because things that were spoken aloud could become real.
From The Origin of Day and Night by Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt, illus. by Lenny Lishchenko
But Ukaliq, the Arctic hare, who could not see in the dark, wondered what would happen if she called out, "Ubluq, ubluq, ubluq! Day, day, day!" And there was light in the world.  Tiri was not pleased. In a dance of light and day, the two animals call forth their preferred illumination so they might hunt or nap, finally agreeing on giving each other sufficient time to find food before the other changed the light in the sky.
And so, Tiri and Ukaliq used the power of their words to bring the sun up into the sky and then to make it set. Taaq brought darkness and ubluq brought day. (pg. 28)
Nunavut author Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt continues to share her Inuit history and culture through her storytelling just as she did in The Legend of Lightning and Thunder (Inhabit Media, 2013) which was shortlisted for the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year for Children. Likewise, she wraps the origin story in The Origin of Day and Night in a mesmerizing story of conflict and resolution between Arctic animals.  But, by bringing to light the natural history of the Arctic, specifically the feeding and behaviour of the Arctic fox and Arctic hare, as well as the activities of the humans who hunt and store their meat to keep it safe from those such as the fox, Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt encourages learning of different cultures and environments, honouring the traditional Inuit belief embedded in The Origin of Day and Night beyond the tale itself.

Because of the nature of the story, Lenny Lishchenko's illustrations are far different from those in Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt's first picture book. Ukrainian-born Toronto artist Lenny Lishchenko plays up the dark vs. light conflict and balance with powerful images, always focusing on the animals and their need for light or dark. By juxtaposing the two, at play as the animals call forth the sky light they require, her illustrations are playful yet resolute and always revealing of their Arctic home.
From The Origin of Day and Night by Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt, illus. by Lenny Lishchenko
A simple story told with mighty text and illustrations, The Origin of Day and Night enlightens about beginnings, people and place.

1 comment:

  1. I love books that take a traditional legend and create a story for children to understand. The drawings look wonderful too.