Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley have found a clever, fun way to tell a story that engages, informs, and entertains.
Using a modern-day narrator to tell the story of an ancient land and time, the Qitsualik-Tinsley writing duo have managed to create a remarkably accurate representation of the old oral story-telling tradition, but recreated it in written form. You truly get the feeling, while reading, that you are sitting around a fire, being told this tale.
The tale itself is simple enough, and yet not familiar enough to modern readers. An Inuit hunter, Kannujaq, wanders upon a Tuniit village in what we would call Greenland. Inuit and Tuniit are familiar with one another, but not necessarily friends. The Tuniit village is attacked by Viking raiders. The Tuniit shaman claims that Kannujaq has arrived to be the new leader of the village. The current leader doesn’t agree. While Kannujaq also doesn’t agree, and tries to walk away, the end result (I don’t want to give too much away) is that he does stay with the village. He also manages to find a way to help them with the Viking raids. More importantly, however, Kannujaq comes to understand why the Vikings return to the poor village, time and time again.
The story, as I say, is simple and fine, but the heart of this book, what makes it more valuable, is what it tells us about three ancient cultures. From wanderers, to villagers, to pillagers, we get a sense of the ancient world from three different points of view, made all the more poignant with the author’s epilogue in which we learn that one of the cultures did not survive in to our modern age.
And underneath it all, we recognize that despite the material trappings and technological advancements, the heart of mankind, that very thing that makes us ‘human’ — hasn’t changed. We still long for, and will fight for, family. There are those who crave power, and those who simply want to be left alone. Many still fear those who are marked a little differently. And the ‘skraelings’ still use cunning to combat might.
I really love books with simple, effective line drawings. I miss the days of books such as Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, with the occasional page devoted to a drawing from the story. The art work here is wonderful. My only complaint…I would have liked just a few more.
Looking for a good book? The historical fiction book, Skraelings, by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley is a touching and beautiful piece of story-telling in the campfire story-telling tradition.
* * * * * *
Skraelings: Clashes in the Old Arctic
authors: Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley
publisher: Inhabit Media
paperback, 120 pages