Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Those Who Run in the Sky

Johnston, Aviaq (Author)
Gas, Toma Feizo (Illustrator)
Inhabit Media 2017. 200 pages
First published: 2017
ISBN: 9781772271218 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Fantasy

Text Elements:

characterization, conflict, figurative language, setting

Award

Governor General’s Literary Award – Finalist – 2017

Reading Range

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

Description:

Traditional Inuit culture, myth and belief are conveyed in this adventure story of a young boy’s journey to becoming a skilled hunter, leader and powerful shaman for his people.

Pitu’s pre-contact world is deftly conveyed through small details (“Lying atop the little hole was a small Y-shaped piece of sinew from the heel of a caribou”) and big hazards: “Restless hunters meant starvation, along with the terrible things people have to do to stay alive in those situations.” Life on the land also includes family bonds, love, jealousy and politics.

This Arctic adventure is imbued with spirituality and belief, as a supernatural blizzard blows teenage Pitu—leader- and shaman-in-training—into the spirit realm. Evocative language brings this eerie world to life.

Monochrome illustrations are scattered throughout; lush shading and brush textures create images that depict the human world (Pitu leans over a breathing hole, harpoon poised, as the northern lights glimmer above) and spirits (a jet-black wolf’s snout wrinkles back to expose mauling teeth).

Notions of patience, striving and endurance are emphasized as Pitu learns his shaman craft, while longing for his family and his betrothed. Sacrifice, maturity and identity-forging are underlined topics when he returns and must deal with the news that his beloved has married another. An extensive glossary of Inuktitut terms and an author’s note complete this useful and compelling tale.

  •  

    The opening chapter describes a traditional Inuit hunting expedition. Consider whether this scene could also take place today and research this topic if you need more information about life in the North.

  •  

    In small reading groups, discuss the coming of age issues that Pitu faces and compare them with those of a typical adolescent living in your time and situation. Explore the way Pitu’s experiences lead to the development of his sense of identity and purpose, and his maturity.

  •  

    Find additional information about Inuit myths and legends. Choose a story or character that interests you and complete more in-depth research. Create a slide presentation that uses images and text to share your information with peers.

  •  Prior to reading, share your collective knowledge about the roles of women and men in Inuit culture. Note and discuss any adjustments to your preconceived ideas as you read.
  •  Keep a log of examples of the Inuit way of preserving nature’s balance by giving and taking only what is necessary.
  •  Inspired by the Inuit traditions of tattooing, research other cultures who have adopted similar traditions. Share your findings with your peers.
  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To solve problems
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Social Sciences