Whale Brother

Whale Brother

by Barbara A. Steiner, Gretchen Will Mayo
     
 

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Omu longs to find the magic he needs to create great whalebone carvings and inspired music on his harmonica, but he does not discover the inspiration until he stands watch beside a dying killer whale.

Overview

Omu longs to find the magic he needs to create great whalebone carvings and inspired music on his harmonica, but he does not discover the inspiration until he stands watch beside a dying killer whale.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Omu, an Eskimo boy, tries to carve a seal from bone, but his father and another carver both tell him that he has not been able to put any life into his work. Believing that he is not a carver after all, Omu gives it up; still searching for a talent, he trades his spear for a harmonica. The other boys tease him, for he neither hunts nor carves, but sits around making terrible sounds. So Omu goes out to sea to play his harmonica and becomes friendly with whales who enjoy his music. When Skana, a great whale, is beached and dies, Omu stays with the once-mighty beast, carving a likeness from ivory. He attains ``qarrtsiluni,'' or the stillness from which real creativity flows. Mayo's pictures treat this tale gently, showing Omu's community and the need to live within the environment. With the symbolic trading of a spear for a harmonica, Steiner's message is perhaps obvious, but no less worthy, and lives up to the poetic telling. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Omu wants to become a great carver of ivory like Padloq his father. But Padloq tells him that he must first find the qarrtsiluni-the stillness. The magic he needs to create a great whalebone carving as well as music from his harmonica is not discovered until he stands watch beside a dying whale. Beautiful pastel drawings further enhance the text.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4 Young Omu searches for something he can do well in a settlement that values hunting and fishing, neither of which he is good at. Most of all, he longs to make bone and ivory figures that live, like those of a great carver, but he cannot understand how to give spirit to form. After solitary encounters with killer whales with whom he communicates through musicespecially with one who is beached and must dieOmu finally finds the stillness he needs in order to create. He emerges from his experience consoled and reconciled. The softened contours and primarily aquatic coloring of the illustrationsmostly sweeping double-page spreadssupport the gentleness of the story. The concepts of the link between life-force and artful expression and of the kinship of all things in naturehere, specifically between whales and humanscome across strongly, but the telling is self-consciously grave, and the whole feels calculated to convey a message. Karen Litton, Confederation Centre Public Library, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802768049
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Publication date:
11/28/1988
Pages:
28
Product dimensions:
10.50(w) x 8.69(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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