Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Old Ways

Mantha, John (Illustrator)
Fifth House 2014. 32 pages
First published: 2014
ISBN: 9781927083161 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Simon is interested in the computer. He likes to watch TV and play video games. In this story of contemporary Inuit culture, children will possibly recognize their own tensions between electronic distractions and learning other skills: “‘Would you like me to show you how to build an igloo today?’” His grandfather, Ataaga, asks. “‘The snow is perfect.’ Simon sighed. ‘Ataaga and the old ways again.’”

But when the family’s snowmobile breaks down in a storm, Simon and his grandparents must rely on traditional knowledge to survive. Realistic illustrations use painterly smudges to depict blustery snow and the furs Ananaksaq lays inside the igloo (meticulously built by Ataaga, with Simon’s help). As Ananaksaq tells stories to pass the time, polar bears and birds fly through the rounded space, made cozy by the seal oil lamp. Icy blues, tinged with evening pinks, depict the final scenes of rescue and joyful family reunion.

Readers of any age will understand Simon’s new attitude toward the old ways: “Tomorrow will you show me again how to build an igloo?”

  •  

    Do a picture walk of a few of the scenes depicting the far north. Share your prior knowledge of Inuit life and customs.

  •  

    Compare and contrast the aspects of modern life that Simon likes with the “old ways” his grandparents know. How and why does Simon’s attitude about his culture change over the course of the story?

  •  If you were stranded in an igloo for an extended period of time, what stories would you tell to pass the time? Practise telling a familiar story with a partner, making it “really interesting” the way Simon does.
  •  

    List the “old ways” that are important to the adults in your life. What is your attitude toward them? Make predictions about the traditions, knowledge and customs that you think will become less valued in the next generation.

  •  

    What do you think the title means? From the text on the back cover, make predictions about the story. As it is read aloud, adjust your predictions.

  •  

    Draw a mind map of the story.

  •  Compare the family’s activities, interests and wishes before and after the snowmobile stopped. Do you have similar differences with your parents or grandparents?
  •  

    Discuss the impact on Simon and his grandparents when they share their cultural roots and knowledge. Make a list of things you could learn from the adults surrounding you.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To solve problems
  • To use information
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Science and Technology