Jake, like so many children, is desperate to have a puppy of his very own, and when Kamik finally enters his life, he couldn’t be more thrilled. Jake just knows that Kamik is going to be an amazing sled dog – fast, strong and obedient. But Kamik is an absolute handful! He’s rambunctious and full of energy, and just won’t seem to do what he’s told! With a wild and crazy puppy like Kamik to try and manage, Jake quickly finds himself at his wit’s end!
Fortunately for Jake, his Ataatasiaq (grandfather) knows just what to do. As Ataatasiaq explains, training a puppy isn’t just about shouting commands. It’s about building strong, positive relationships of trust and respect.
“In order to train a good dog, you have to build trust with the dog, living with it every day and teaching it through how you behave and how you treat it. I spent a lot of time with my dogs. It was more like building a good friendship than raising an animal. Eventually they start to understand you and you start to understand them.”
With patience and respect, even an unruly puppy like Kamik can be trained. Jake’s Ataatasiaq tells Jake about his experiences training dogs in his youth, back when the Inuit people lived a largely nomadic lifestyle, living off the Arctic land as they had for generations. Just as Jake must train Kamik with love and patience, so Ataatasiaq is training Jake with those same principles, sharing his knowledge, and further building a relationship of trust and love.
I love that this is a very modern, relatable story that manages to seamlessly blend the past, present and future in a positive, respectful narrative. Jake is a very modern child, and children across Canada will be able to relate to him and identify with him. But he is also a product of a very specific culture, to which he is deeply and very positively linked. The past doesn’t hold Jake back, it propels him forwards, and the knowledge his grandfather shares with him he can one day share with his own children. As one review puts it:
“You’re interested in diversifying your collection, right? Kamik is a huge plus in that effort, because its tribally specific (names the tribe rather than the generic/problematic ‘American Indian’), and because its set in the present day (if you read my site, you know I push for your assistance in helping children know that—contrary to popular misconceptions—Indigenous people didn’t vanish; we’re part of the 21st century, too!)”
Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story received a very positive review from the American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) blog, which is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to expand their Aboriginal collections, or just infuse some Aboriginal stories into their reading.
Author Donald Uluadluak is an Inuit elder, who infuses his accessible story with information on Inuit culture and traditions, while Canadian illustrator Qin Leng fills each page with life, colour and delightful characters.
Sweet, fun, authentic and beautiful, and sure to delight children (who doesn’t love a beautiful story about a puppy?!), Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story is a great addition to any picture book collection.
P.S. I JUST REALIZED THERE ARE SEQUELS!!!