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.
About the Author
For almost twenty years, Michael Bania lived above the Arctic Circle. While residing in various Inupiat villages, she actively participated in the local culture and developed an understanding and respect for a distinct way of life. Here she met her husband, raised a family, and taught the children who would become the inspiration for Kumak and his tall tales from the far north. Art and illustration is a big part of Michael’s life. She wrote and illustrated her first children’s book at age six. Today she maintains her studio in Southeast Alaska.
Read an Excerpt
Even though the ice was no longer moving, smaller chunks sometimes broke away from the main river and floated toward the houses. With a long pole, Kumak pushed away any ice that came to close.