Minik's Story

Minik's Story

by Jennifer Owings Dewey

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Minik is a 12 year-old Inuit girl living with her father, Imak, and grandmother, Ashoona, in the nineteenth century. She has a strong connection to ancient beliefs about the spirit world as does her promised young husband-to-be, Sculpin. As shape shifters they often take the form of animals in order to learn their ways. "My soul has a life of its own, Grandmother. My soul shares breath with the sea wind, the seabirds of the air." Dewey writes this fictional story as a tribute to her own life-long fascination and sense of connection to the Inuit people. Her extensive library of first edition books about the people of the Arctic provides documentation for a time when missionaries traveled north to spread Christianity. Through the dialog of everyday life, she reveals rich truths about a people able to endure the harsh environment, but not the contamination of the European way of life. In this story the Dog Children, the "ones who change nature" bring about a clash of culture when they come ashore with their whaling party. They leave behind the man-woman priest that Minik comes to call Longskirt. This frank look at the end of innocence for both Minik and her world is an educational catalyst for open discussion between parent and child and should provide the impetus for classroom directed research. 2003, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 8 to 12.
— Francine Thomas
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Minik, a 12-year-old Inuit, tells of coming of age before the introduction of outside cultures. Interwoven with daily activities are many cultural facts, such as the belief in shape-shifting, taboos, and tattooing a girl's face in preparation for marriage. When the Dog Children (white whalers) arrive, the tranquillity of the camp is disturbed as the two worlds collide. Ashoona, Minik's wise grandmother, warns against trusting these strangers, believing that this will only bring unhappiness to their people. After a short, disruptive visit, the whalers depart, leaving behind an English minister who hopes to teach and convert the Inuits. Trouble does arrive at the camp, and even though he is not at fault, Longskirt is blamed. He is banished from the camp, and must find his own way back to his society. Minik's first-person narrative reveals her thoughts, fears, reactions, and misconceptions about these strange people. She calls on the fulmar, her "helping spirit," to guide her as she deals with each new experience. Readers come to know her as a caring, competent young woman, true to her environment. At story's end, she is married to the young man she was promised to as an infant, and pregnant. Through language that is appropriate and consistent with the times and culture, Dewey provides an accurate view of the Inuit way of life, yet this background information does not overwhelm the story.-Margaret R. Tassia, Millersville University, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Cavendish Square Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.64(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.58(d)
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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