Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Tuk and the Whale

Rivera, Raquel (Author)
Gerber, Mary Jane (Illustrator)
Groundwood Books 2008. 88 pages
First published: 2008
ISBN: 9780888998910 (paperback)
9780888996893 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel

Text Elements:

dialogue, point of view, 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

Description:

When the Qallunaat (American whalers) first arrive on the Arctic shore, interaction with the local Inuit is tense: “The hunters held themselves tight, ready for sudden moves.” But the two parties soon reach an understanding. Combining the white man’s tools with the Inuit’s skill, they will have a better chance of catching an Arvik (Bowhead Whale).

As the story is written from the point of view of a young boy, the language is simple, with short, action-driven sentences: “The line attached to the harpoon was different from Father’s line. It was thick and made up of many smaller lines all twisted together.” Occasional Inuktitut words are used such as “quiliq,” the stone lamp for burning animal fat, and “umiak,” a boat made from stretched skin.

Simple black-and-white illustrations enrich the scenes. One striking, full-page drawing shows the American whalers approaching the Inuit community, guns pointed in the air, while an Inuit family stands to greet them, igloos in the background. Other scenes show the grandfather sitting on thick animal skins, telling stories inside the igloo.

When the Qallunaat give Tuk a sharp knife as a gift, he is delighted and sees it as a sign of his maturity. When he’s out on the hunt, the knife comes in handy when the whale’s force on the line threatens to pull the boat into the icy water. The story and illustrations portray early Inuit life and offer an example of the peaceful communication between Qallunaat and Inuit.

  •  

    What might daily life have been like for people living in the Far North 300 years ago?

  •  When people of different cultures meet for the first time, it may take time to bond and cooperate. Why is this sometimes a challenge? What can people do to make it easier?
  •  

    To have the best chance at hunting the Arvik, hunters combine the white man’s tools with Inuit skill. Write about a time when you were unable to accomplish something without the help of someone in particular. What did you both offer that was unique and essential?

  •  

    Research Inuit culture in modern-day Canada. How is it similar to and different from 300 years ago?

  •  

    Research Inuit whale hunting. Pair up with a partner and ask each other questions about what you have learned. Discuss what makes whale hunting dangerous. Why do you believe the Inuit are generally exempt from international whaling laws?

  •  While you read, pay attention to the interactions between the Inuit and the Qallunaat. Are they friendly or hostile?
  •  

    With a partner, write a song describing Tuk’s adventure. Aim for it to have rhyme and metre.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Personal Development