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Kumak's River: A Tale Tale from the Far North
     

Kumak's River: A Tale Tale from the Far North

by Michael Bania
 

In the Arctic, before winter gives way to buds and flowers, breakup occurs—the moment when the ice of a frozen river suddenly breaks apart in a spectacular sight-and-sound show. Massive chunks of ice crunch and pound against one another, pushing their way down river towards the sea. ‘“That river will come to visit us today,” said Kumak. The

Overview

In the Arctic, before winter gives way to buds and flowers, breakup occurs—the moment when the ice of a frozen river suddenly breaks apart in a spectacular sight-and-sound show. Massive chunks of ice crunch and pound against one another, pushing their way down river towards the sea. ‘“That river will come to visit us today,” said Kumak. The water starts rising. It spills out of the river banks, up over the sandy beach, and begins flowing up past the fish racks and boats. As the waters sweep through his village, Kumak and his family take refuge on the roof of his house. “Look!” said Kumak’s wife, “There goes Uncle Aglu’s oil drum.” “Look!” said Kumak’s wife’s mother, “There goes Aana Lulu’s fish tubs and net floats!” “Look!” said Kumak’s sons and daughters, “There goes Little Nate’s basketball!”’ Just as Kumak and his family are feeling all is lost, “just like someone pulled a plug in a bathtub”, the water recedes. “Just in time!” shout the villagers. “What has the river done with our things!”’In an effort to recover as many of their belonging as possible, Kumak and the village practice the value of community and working together. In this light-hearted, playful adventure, the villagers show respect for nature’s immense power as Kumak brings them together to rescue their supplies, toys, household goods, and, finally, Kumak’s dogs. Through lively art, humorous text, and informative endnotes, author Michael Bania conveys authentic details on Inupiat village life and provides young readers with a fascinating window into another culture as the life of hapless, yet lovable Kumak continues. Bania’s first book, KUMAK'S HOUSE was a 2003 Children's Book Council Notable Trade Book in Social Studies. Her second book, KUMAK’S FISH was a Notable Social Studies Trade Book, 2005 Children’s Book Council. Both books were chosen for the Alaska Association of School Libraries “Battle of the Books” for First Grade.  KUMAK’S FISH was an honor book for the first Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Kumak’s River. Iñupiat villagers cope with a flood in a cheery tale that’s not so much “Tall” as it is Wet. Watching the river ice break up after eight frozen months, papa Kumak comments to his family, “As sure as seagulls return in spring, that river will come to visit us today.” Indeed it does—as Kumak and his neighbors watch from the roofs of their stilt-based homes, the water rises behind a temporary jam to carry away the village’s oil drums, fish tubs, net floats and toys, as well as the boat into which Kumak has herded his motley pack of dogs. The river doesn’t “visit” long, though, and once the dam breaks up, everyone climbs down to help one another successfully recover their strayed goods and animals. The Alaskan author draws from her own experiences to tell the lightly patterned tale, and she illustrates it with bright watercolor scenes replete with frisky dogs and smiling people (the latter in modern dress). There is some brief drama, but it's less a tale of hardship or survival than a celebration of the season’s turn and an authentic glimpse of life in northwestern Alaska.  A valuable, loving look at an often-overlooked culture. (afterword) (Picture book. 5-7).    —Kirkus Reviews 7-26-2012

”The story is told in spare yet rhythmic prose, with the repeated refrain of "Just in time!" adding structure. . . The line and watercolor art is jaunty and appealing, with teeming vignettes of people and stuff contrasting with the wide open skies and broad blue river. A float-ringed thumbnail "window" cleverly provides an ongoing dog-cam that follows the exploits of the drifting dogs as the family waits for the waters to subside. With a style that's suitable for reading alone or reading aloud one on one, this is an unusual adventure that will intrigue many young residents of the lower 48.” 
Deborah Stevenson, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Vol. 66. No. 2, October 2012

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3—This sunny sequel to Kumak's House (2002) and Kumak's Fish (2004, both Alaska Northwest) centers on spring in a remote Alaskan village, when the ice on the frozen river cracks and breaks and jams up at a river bend, flooding the community. Kumak and his family climb onto their roof and keep the largest chunks of ice away with long poles, their dogs tied up in a boat nearby. Bania, who taught in an Inupiaq village, works the cadences of the story like the flowing waters of the river, with repetition of key phrases building the action. The illustrations are a pleasing wash of color against large swaths of white space that call to mind the vast openness of Alaska. A secondary story takes place in the pictures, in which the dogs have their own adventure after the rope holding their boat breaks. Despite a misleading subtitle, the story is less a tall tale than a lovingly depicted story of a people who live in harmony with nature; rather than raging against the river that sweeps away their oil drums, toys, net floats, and fish tubs, Kumak and his family know that "A river does what a river does."—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780882408873
Publisher:
Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company
Publication date:
09/15/2012
Edition description:
First Edition, Illustrated
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
1,327,070
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Read an Excerpt

Kumak's River

A Tale from the Far North
By Michael Bania

Alaska Northwest Books

Copyright © 2012 Michael Bania
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780882408873

‘“That river will come to visit us today,” said Kumak. The water starts rising. It spills out of the river banks, up over the sandy beach, and begins flowing up past the fish racks and boats. As the waters sweep through his village, Kumak and his family take refuge on the roof of his house. “Look!” said Kumak’s wife, “There goes Uncle Aglu’s oil drum.” “Look!” said Kumak’s wife’s mother, “There goes Aana Lulu’s fish tubs and net floats!” “Look!” said Kumak’s sons and daughters, “There goes Little Nate’s basketball!”’ Just as Kumak and his family are feeling all is lost, “just like someone pulled a plug in a bathtub”, the water recedes. “Just in time!” shout the villagers. “What has the river done with our things!”’



Continues...

Excerpted from Kumak's River by Michael Bania Copyright © 2012 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

Kumak’s River. Iñupiat villagers cope with a flood in a cheery tale that’s not so much “Tall” as it is Wet. Watching the river ice break up after eight frozen months, papa Kumak comments to his family, “As sure as seagulls return in spring, that river will come to visit us today.” Indeed it does—as Kumak and his neighbors watch from the roofs of their stilt-based homes, the water rises behind a temporary jam to carry away the village’s oil drums, fish tubs, net floats and toys, as well as the boat into which Kumak has herded his motley pack of dogs. The river doesn’t “visit” long, though, and once the dam breaks up, everyone climbs down to help one another successfully recover their strayed goods and animals. The Alaskan author draws from her own experiences to tell the lightly patterned tale, and she illustrates it with bright watercolor scenes replete with frisky dogs and smiling people (the latter in modern dress). There is some brief drama, but it's less a tale of hardship or survival than a celebration of the season’s turn and an authentic glimpse of life in northwestern Alaska.  A valuable, loving look at an often-overlooked culture. (afterword) (Picture book. 5-7).    —-Kirkus Reviews 7-26-2012

”The story is told in spare yet rhythmic prose, with the repeated refrain of "Just in time!" adding structure. . . The line and watercolor art is jaunty and appealing, with teeming vignettes of people and stuff contrasting with the wide open skies and broad blue river. A float-ringed thumbnail "window" cleverly provides an ongoing dog-cam that follows the exploits of the drifting dogs as the family waits for the waters to subside. With a style that's suitable for reading alone or reading aloud one on one, this is an unusual adventure that will intrigue many young residents of the lower 48.” 
—-Deborah Stevenson, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Vol. 66. No. 2, October 2012

Meet the Author

Bania lived for almost 20 years above the Arctic Circle.

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