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Caribou Girl

Caribou Girl

by Claire Rudolf Murphy
In this authentic tale of the nomadic Inuit people, Caribou Girl relies on traditional values and her own instincts to find the Caribou herds her people depend on. Ages 4-10


In this authentic tale of the nomadic Inuit people, Caribou Girl relies on traditional values and her own instincts to find the Caribou herds her people depend on. Ages 4-10

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This clunky retelling, purportedly based on Inuit myth, tells of a girl chosen from among her people to follow in the footsteps of her great-grandmother as a shaman. The girl's community, dependent upon the caribou for food, clothing and shelter, faces disaster when the herd disappears. With her great-grandmother's amulet around her neck, Caribou Girl meets Tatqiq, the Moon Man, and is transformed into a caribou. Traveling with the herd, Caribou Girl learns its ways, eventually reuniting the animals with her people; she earns the title of shaman and the ability to assume the shape of either girl or caribou at will. Murphy's text elicits little magic and misses intriguing opportunities when, for example, Caribou Girl finds herself ungulate, running across the tundra, browsing lichens and escaping wolves. Russell's pale watercolors summon a bit of drama through montages of images; vignettes of Inuit life, the spirit world and dreams blend to produce a sense of commotion, but its end effect may be confusing for younger readers. Ages 4-10. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Donna Freedman
Although Caribou Girl is fiction, it has the sweep and power of a traditional tale. When the Inuit begin to starve, Caribou Girl sets out to find the great herds. When she changes into a caribou herself, she learns how to save her people. She is sometimes frightened, but draws on inner strengths and learns from her environment-a good lesson for kids (especially girls) to learn. Russell's paintings of the Inuit are wonderful, but her pages are busy and crowded with images that ultimately confuse the eye.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3--The story of a young Inuit girl's quest to bring the caribou to her hungry people. With the help of an amulet that belonged to her great-grandmother, a shaman, Caribou Girl becomes one of the herd. As she lives with the animals through the seasons and learns their ways, she is led by the voice of the caribou spirit. When she finally returns to her people, she teaches them to follow the herd and brings them hope for the future. Elizabeth Cleaver's The Enchanted Caribou (Atheneum, 1985; o.p.) tells of a young woman who is changed into a white caribou after befriending three brave hunters. Garnet Hewitt's Ytek and the Arctic Orchid (Vanguard Press, 1981; o.p.) is a more complicated Inuit legend in which a young boy goes in search of the caribou when they become scarce on the hunting grounds. Of the three, Caribou Girl is the easiest to read. The pastel illustrations are lovely, albeit uneven in quality. The depiction of the Inuit people is not consistent, e.g., the cover looks as though the girl's head has been plopped down on a body clad in the garments of a Greenland Eskimo. However, the caribou and other arctic animals are beautifully rendered, sometimes realistically, and sometimes in swirling rainbow colors. The book has been simultaneously published in Inupiak. Brief information on the Inuit and on caribou is appended. A must for libraries with a high demand for materials about the arctic.--Mollie Bynum, formerly at Chester Valley Elementary School, Anchorage, AK
Kirkus Reviews
In a long-ago time, the caribou are scarce, and the people are starving; a swift-running Inuit girl named Caribou Girl dreams of the caribou, and so her grandfather gives her an amulet and sends her to find them. She travels into the sky to Moon Man, who turns her into a caribou so that she will learn the ways of the herd. By learning their cycles, she comes to understand how her people must behave in the future (following the herd, for example) in order to survive. When she meets her deceased great-grandmother, who is also the spirit of the caribou, Caribou Girl knows that it is time to return home, where she is greeted joyfully, and begins to act as the shaman she is. Although the story has been meticulously researched, the telling is less than lyrical. Those unfamiliar with Inuit tales may not understand all the mystical leaps; the handsome illustrations also require careful study, with their layers of superimposed dreams and mythical symbols occasionally overwhelming the events of the story. Difficult, but compelling. (further reading) (Picture book. 6-9)

Product Details

Rinehart, Roberts Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.60(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.34(d)
Age Range:
4 - 10 Years

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