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Grandmother Ptarmigan

Overview

A sing-song parable that serves as an introduction to traditional Inuit stories

It’s bedtime for baby ptarmigan, but he will not go to sleep. So his grandmother decides to tell him a bedtime story that he will never forget. With whimsical illustrations by Qin Leng, this nursery rhyme is an inspired rendition of a traditional Inuit origin tale. Retold by Cape Dorset elder Qaunaq Mikkigak and author Joanne Schwartz, is perfect for the youngest of...

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Overview

A sing-song parable that serves as an introduction to traditional Inuit stories

It’s bedtime for baby ptarmigan, but he will not go to sleep. So his grandmother decides to tell him a bedtime story that he will never forget. With whimsical illustrations by Qin Leng, this nursery rhyme is an inspired rendition of a traditional Inuit origin tale. Retold by Cape Dorset elder Qaunaq Mikkigak and author Joanne Schwartz, is perfect for the youngest of readers.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
In this very simple retelling of a traditional Inuit origin tale, a young ptarmigan (a type of bird that lives in the Arctic) refuses to go to sleep unless his Grandma tells him a story. She begins by telling him that hairless baby lemmings want to get warm and crawl all over him. This makes the little ptarmigan squirm. When she says, "...here they come!" and tickles him all over, the little bird, who has never flown, jumps up and flies away. "Nauk, nauk," the grandmother cries, as she is missing her grandchild. The explanation: "And that is why baby ptarmigans fly so young. And that is why female ptarmigans cry nauk nauk." The visual tale is equally simple. The illustrations are almost exclusively naturalistic pictures of the two birds with only a glimpse of the snowy landscape and an igloo. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
04/01/2014
PreS-K—In this traditional Inuit pourquoi tale, the retellers explain why baby ptarmigans fly so young and why female ptarmigans make the crying sound "nauk, nauk." The style, design, and art are whimsical and charming. Simple illustrations are dominated by soft blue, gray, and white hues depicting the cold and icy landscape. The text, however, may be lost on younger children; the narrative is likely too abstract and symbolic for the intended audience to appreciate fully. An additional purchase.—Megan McGinnis, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-03
Grandma tries to help her little one fall asleep. The baby bird asks for a story, but Grandma says she has none to tell. The baby keeps asking, however, so finally Grandma obliges. In her story, lemmings want to join them to get warm. "They want to crawl up your back, / under your armpits, / around your neck. / They want to crawl inside." Clearly the little ptarmigan is uneasy, but Grandma tickles him all over anyway. Frightened, he flies for the first time—away from Grandma. Bereft, Grandma cries, "nauk, nauk." This is no ordinary bedtime tale but a pourquoi tale that explains why baby ptarmigans fly at a very young age and females cry. Children who are accustomed to cuddling at bedtime may find this storytelling experience a bit unsettling, but in the harsh natural world of the Arctic, it provides an explanation for observed behavior. Co-author Mikkigak is an Inuit elder, storyteller and performer, and the Canadian publisher is Inuit-owned. Non-Inuit readers will probably wish for notes and a pronunciation guide, but as a cultural expression, the book has its own integrity. Leng's art in browns and blues is lovely, employing short brush strokes that animate both feathers and flight. A brief, illuminating glimpse into Inuit storytelling. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781927095522
  • Publisher: Inhabit Media Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/2014
  • Pages: 16
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Qaunaq Mikkigak is an elder, artist, and throat singer. She is the coauthor of The Legend of the Fog and she was featured in Dorset Sculpture and Inuit Women Artists: Voices from Cape Dorset and Cape. She lives in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, Canada. Joanne Schwartz is a children’s librarian and the author of the children’s picture books City Alphabet, City Numbers, and Our Corner Grocery Store, which was nominated for the 2010 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. She is the coauthor of The Legend of the Fog. She lives in Toronto. Qin Leng is a designer and illustrator. She is the illustrator of numerous picture books, including Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story and A Walk on the Tundra. She lives in Toronto.

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