Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"Baseball Bats for Christmas" - a bookwrap

Naujaat - ᓇᐅᔮᑦ - 'Seagull nesting place'
The hospitable hamlet of Naujaat is situated on the Canadian mainland at the northwestern limit of Hudson Bay near Foxe Basin. It is located right on the Arctic Circle, at the north end of Repulse Bay on the southern shores of Rae Isthmus. The Inuktitut name of this community is 'Naujaat' ('seagull nesting place') for a cliff area nearby where fledgling seagulls are born each June. Its people are the Aivilingmiut ('people of the walrus place'), direct descendants of the ancient Thule people, known for their excellent dog teams and walrus hunting skills. It's a great place for viewing polar bears and for whale watching excursions, plus it is located close to beautiful Ukkusiksalik National Park, which is a 15-minute plane ride away.

Naujaat enjoys constant 24-hour sunshine from June 4 to July 9. Summer temperatures range from 10°C to 25°C. The prevailing wind direction is from the northwest, averaging 17 kph (11 mph) yet sometimes gusting to 100 kph (62 mph). The winter temperature drops to -45°C. Snowfalls can happen at any time in the spring, fall and winter months.


"Baseball Bats for Christmas"

Authored by Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak
Illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka

Ages: 9-11
Grade Levels:  PS +

Unwrapping some fabulous illustrations for you to enjoy


Editorial reviews

The original edition received the following honors:

• Greatest Canadian Books of the Century List, Vancouver Public Library 

• 100 Best Books List, Toronto Public Library 

• 100 Best Canadian Kids’ Books, Today’s Parent Magazine 

• Ruth Schwartz Award finalist

“Kusugak’s first-person narration is warm, energetic, and wonderfully humorous. The story sprawls out anecdotally ... a stand-out season winner.” ―Quill & Quire --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the book

The setting of the story is Repulse Bay, "Repulse Bay is smack dab on the Arctic Circle - way up at the north end of Hudson Bay."  The year is 1955 and a mere 100 people reside there.  In the winter they inhabit igloos and sod huts and the only way to deliver needed goods is by plane.

A little asthmatic boy named Arvaaluk, just seven years old, narrates the story. He's a precious little guy who dearly loves Christmas.  He delves into the habits and customs of his life living in the far north and focuses on one special event that made all the children in the area very, very happy.

He tells us that when you look around the landscape there are no "standing- ups" or as we know them, trees, because of the harsh weather they experience there trees will not grow.  

One day the Union Jack flag is raised up high in front of the Hudson's Bay company store signally to everyone that a plane is about to arrive and deliver some goods to them.  

Rocky Parson, the settlement's hero and pilot, drops off some green things with spindly branches sticking out all over them.  He drops off six right in front of Arvarrluk's hut. Whatever could those strange things be?   

"What are they?" Jack asked.
"Standing-ups," Peter said confidently.  "I've seen them in books at the church. Father Didier showed them to us."

Now that the kids have identified them as trees what on earth are they going to do with them?  They did not have much time to figure that out because Christmas festivities were about to begin.  After a midnight church service and the exchanging of their most favourite thing in the world between best friends.... the lightbulb comes on bright and shiny!  Cleverly the friends decide exactly how to put those six trees to good use. Their brilliant plan will include all the kids in the village so everyone can join in on the Christmas merriment.   Wonder what they came up with to make that Christmas magic happen for this year and in the years to come?  

The illustrations are just beautiful.  Vibrant colours and expressions of the characters so enrich the text.  I really love them especially the colour pallet chosen.  I highly recommend this book. 

Storywraps Rating -  5 +++ HUGS!!!!!

About the author

  Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak grew up in Repulse Bay, a small village in the Northwest Territories. His family followed the traditional Inuit life-style, traveling by dogteam, living in igloos in the winter and tents in the summer. He had no access to books as a child, and didn't speak a word of English until he was seven years old. "Every night my grandma would tell us a story to put us to sleep."
  In 1955, a floatplane whisked Kusugak off to a residential school in Chesterfield Inlet. "When you're seven years old and hauled away from your parents, it's very hard. I cried the whole year I was there." The next year, when the plane came again, Kusugak hid in the hills. "I didn't go to school that year." In spite of his truancy Kusugak went on to become one of the first Inuit from the eastern Arctic to finish high school. He went to work for the government and spent 15 years in a variety of positions including Director of Community Programs for Arctic College.
  Kusugak had enjoyed writing stories and poems but had never considered becoming an author until he met Robert Munsch. "He stayed with us during Book Week once, and I told him all kinds of legends. He suggested that I write them down." They took one of those stories and worked on it together. A Promise is a Promise by Michael Kusugak and Robert Munsch was published by Annick Press in 1988.
"That story is based on a childhood memory. I like to write about my Inuit experiences. I like to take things that are native to me and create a story around them."

  Kusugak has since published six other books about the legends and myths of the Arctic as well as his own personal experiences.
  When he is not writing, he travels throughout North America visiting schools and enthralling students and teachers alike with his stories and traditional string tricks.
  He still lives in the Arctic. "I've always been close to the land, the sea, and the animals. I want to share the things I know about life here in the Arctic."

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