Kumak's Fish: A Tall Tale from the Far North

Kumak's Fish: A Tall Tale from the Far North

by Michael Bania
     
 

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On a beautiful Arctic morning, Kumak looks out the window of his house at the sun rising over the frozen river. "Ahhh, spring," says Kumak to his family. "The days are long, the nights are short, and the ice is still hard. Good day for fish." Eager to give Uncle Aglu's amazing hooking stick a try, Kumak packs up his family and heads out to go

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Overview

On a beautiful Arctic morning, Kumak looks out the window of his house at the sun rising over the frozen river. "Ahhh, spring," says Kumak to his family. "The days are long, the nights are short, and the ice is still hard. Good day for fish." Eager to give Uncle Aglu's amazing hooking stick a try, Kumak packs up his family and heads out to go ice fishing. "Good day for fish!" they all agree. Hapless Kumac is the only one in his family without fish until the tug at the other end of his line incites a mighty battle. A clever ending reveals that the whale-sized fish that Kumak imagined was actually a line of small fish in tug o' war position. Kumak reigns, and there's plenty for everybody. Authentic details throughout the playful art and text, as well as endnotes on Inupiat fishing, provide young readers with a fascinating window into another culture in this follow up to KUMAK'S HOUSE a 2003 Children's Book Council Notable Trade Book in Social Studies.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
"Good day for fish." This is the refrain echoed by Kumak's wife, mother-in-law, and children after he has observed that the " . . . days are long. The nights are short, and the ice is still hard. Good day for fish." So he packs the entire family on the sled to head for the frozen lake at the mouth of the river. Everyone settles down at his/her own fishing hole and each exhibits great patience while waiting to catch a fish. The illustrations are a wonderful mirror of the details of their clothing, preparations for the trip, and their method of fishing. The obvious authenticity is a tribute to the observations made by Bania in her own experience living in the Arctic for the past two decades (she and her husband now live on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula). The tale takes an amusing turn as Kumak is the last to hook a fish using the famous "hooking stick," that had been lovingly carved by Uncle Aglu many years before. But little does he realize just what he has hooked. After he is unable to land the fish, he calls on each member of his family to help pull the fish out onto the ice. All of their efforts are to no avail and so the rest of the village must come to the aid of Kumak and his family. It is touch and go for a while but patience and perseverance are the watch words of the day and the fine catch is finally landed. Everyone is amazed to see that they have caught a long line of fish, each one holding on to the preceding fish just as Kumak's family and the villagers had all been holding on to each other. This is a wonderful blending of an old way of life and a "tall tale," balancing the ideas of cooperation, sharing, patience, and traditions of the area's people. Bania explains the inspirationfor the story in the back matter. There are also helpful pronunciation tips for a couple of the Inupiat names. This is the sequel to Kumak's House. Both books will be useful for educators but families will enjoy sharing these humorous stories as well. 2004, Alaska Northwest Books, Ages 3 to 8.
—Sheilah Egan
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-Declaring that it's a "Good day for fish," a man and his family set off for a day of ice fishing, with Kumak carrying Uncle Aglu's "amazing hooking stick." While others begin catching fish, Kumak's line remains quiet. Suddenly there's a twitch on it and he begins to pull. His strength alone is not enough to bring the great fish through the hole in the ice and he must ask his wife for assistance, and then the remainder of his family. Still, their combined might is not enough to catch the mighty fish and fellow villagers join in the struggle. While the maxim traditionally says, "It takes a village to raise a child," in this case, it takes a village to catch a fish. Joyful watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations capture the icy although not colorless landscape and most particularly the expressive faces of the I-upiat villagers. Even the animals wear expressions filled with humor and playfulness. This delightful blend of art and text brings the rich traditions and culture of the peoples of the Far North to life. A wonderful supplement to units on Alaska and the Arctic, this title surpasses mere curriculum support and stands alone as gifted storytelling.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

Light watercolor washes outlined in delicate ink on white paper give the pictures a sense of the icy setting while still conveying the joyful energy of the people as they work together. Bania pays careful attention to the details of place and of the Inupiat people, but the book is never stuffy. She includes several visual jokes as well as nicely defined characters for children to seek out in the pictures, and brings the story to a triumphant and very funny conclusion. 

--- Horn Book

While the maxim traditionally says, “It takes a village to raise a child,” in this case it takes a village to catch a fish. Joyful watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations capture the icy although not colorless landscape and most particularly the expressive faces of the Inupiat villagers. Even the animals wear expressions filled with humor and playfulness. This delightful blend of art and text brings the rich traditions and culture of the peoples of the Far North to life. A wonderful supplement to units on Alaska and the Arctic, this title surpasses mere curriculum support and stands alone as gifted storytelling.

---  School Library Journal, Sept 2004

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780882405834
Publisher:
Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company
Publication date:
04/15/2004
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
10.36(w) x 8.68(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Read an Excerpt

Kumak's Fish

A Tall Tale from the Far North
By Michael Bania

Alaska Northwest Books

Copyright © 2004 Michael Bania
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780882405834

“Suddenly, Uncle Aglu’s amazing hooking stick began to twitch.”

“It twitched this way. It twitched that way.”

“It went around and around.”

“It gave one more twitch, then yanked Kumak toward the fishing hole.”

“‘What a big fish!’ said Kumak’s wife.”

“’Biggest I can remember!’ said his wife’s mother.”

“’The biggest fish ever!’ said his sons and daughters.”



Continues...

Excerpted from Kumak's Fish by Michael Bania Copyright © 2004 by Michael Bania. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

While the maxim traditionally says, “It takes a village to raise a child,” in this case it takes a village to catch a fish. Joyful watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations capture the icy although not colorless landscape and most particularly the expressive faces of the Inupiat villagers. Even the animals wear expressions filled with humor and playfulness. This delightful blend of art and text brings the rich traditions and culture of the peoples of the Far North to life. A wonderful supplement to units on Alaska and the Arctic, this title surpasses mere curriculum support and stands alone as gifted storytelling.

—-  School Library Journal, Sept 2004

Light watercolor washes outlined in delicate ink on white paper give the pictures a sense of the icy setting while still conveying the joyful energy of the people as they work together. Bania pays careful attention to the details of place and of the Inupiat people, but the book is never stuffy. She includes several visual jokes as well as nicely defined characters for children to seek out in the pictures, and brings the story to a triumphant and very funny conclusion. 

—- Horn Book

Like Kumak’s House (2002), this original comic tall tale about an Inupiat (Eskimo) family in the Arctic combines folklore and farce with some realistic detail of the setting and community. It’s “a good day for fish,” so Kumak loads his big family onto his sled with all their fishing gear. They dig their fishing holes, and everyone except Kumak catches something. But then, with Uncle Aglu’s amazing hooking stick, Kumak fells a pull so big that he nearly falls into the hole. His family members line up behind him to help him drag in what’s on the line. A few passerby stop to help, and finally, the whole village. Bania spent two decades in the Arctic, and her playful line-and-watercolor scenes show the people fishing on a bright,  icy spring morning, pulling together across the pages and laughing. The tug of war is hilarious, and the catch is a great surprise. Both words and pictures celebrate cooperation, sharing, and humor. —- Amercain Library Association, Hazel Rochman, 2005.

Meet the Author

Bania lived for almost 20 years above the Arctic Circle.

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