Sunday, April 18, 2010

Children's Book Monday

Don't you just love a good story? One that, long after the cover is closed and the day has gone on, you find keeps coming up in conversation? I do.

Pipaluk and the Whales
by John Himmelman

Pipaluk and her father, a Chukchi hunter from Russia's Chukchi Peninsula, are returning from a hunting trip on their dog sled. They zoom across the ice, Pipa snuggled warmly into her father, when suddenly their dogs stop pulling the sled and begin howling and crying!

When they come to an edge on the ice, in the distance it looks as if the ice is moving; on closer inspection they find Beluga whales trapped in a savssat, or ice hole. The savssat has been closed up by the sudden cold and the whales cannot hold their breath long enough to swim under to the open sea. While Pipa and her father realize that so many whales in one place would provide their village with food to last for many seasons, he tells her it still would not be right- that the whales have provided their people with food for centuries, and they owe them too much to slaughter them while they are helpless. So, they go for help.

The village packs up tents and supplies and makes its way to the savssat. Together, they begin to chip away at the shrinking savssat, hoping to bring some relief to the whales. A ship is sent for, an "icebreaker". If it could make a channel to the savssat, the whales could swim to the open sea! The villagers hack and saw, using some of their own fish to feed the starving whales, and soon, Pipa finds a special way to soothe her panicked friends. And the icebreaker on its way will soon find that they also need the help of this young girl to help finish freeing the whales.

This book is based on the true story, in 1985, of a Chukchi hunter who came across trapped Beluga whales near the Chukchi Peninsula. An icebreaker was, indeed, sent for, and formed a channel to help bring the whales to safety. You must read the story to find out how the whales were enticed to follow the ship!

We were reminded of Pa Ingalls when we read this story; how he wouldn't hunt rabbits in the spring and leave their little ones alone to die. It is a wise decision, yes, for to kill the parents would set off a chain of events that might lead to having no rabbits to hunt when the season came. But it is a respectful decision, one God Himself would look on in approval- not just taking, but being ever mindful of those who come after, and the beautiful ebb and flow of life cycles.

We also love the sweet, simple illustrations in the story that accompany so well without detracting attention from the need, and the community that filled it. And we learned new words, new methods, and marveled at the spirit of community in a faraway place still easily found on our world map. Well done!

Happy Reading!

If you have reviewed a children's book this week, please leave us the direct url to your post and we'll share in the delight together!

4 fellow travelers shared:

The Homemaker said...

Elise! So glad you've started doing this as a carnival!!! Can't wait to join in and to read others GREAT finds!!!

Anonymous said...

The Book sounds Great! I love it when they leave such an impression, and when there's a good story behind the story (or author).

I think we just read about Pa's decision this past week (Plum Creek?).

Thanks for joining in BTW...I'll have to check out all your authors, and NO it does not disqualify you :)

Have a great week!

Suzanne@TheJoyfulChaos said...

We have this book and we love it too! I'm excited about your linky - we LOVE children's books around here!

Sleep-Deprived said...

Just wanted to thank you for the recommendation to read Coop. I ran across it through the link in your last post. (Downloaded it to my Kindle for instant reading pleasure :) - plowed through in less than 24 hours. Having grown up on a small "gentleman's farm" - I LOVED so many of his descriptions that reminded me of sights, sounds, smells and experiences of my childhood. Laughed out loud at the butcher's descriptions of the pig - I took a pair of pig eyes to show-and-tell in elementary school :) I imagine that kind of behavior might elicit a psyche evaluation these days. Wish I could have shared the book with my dad. He grew up working on his Uncles' farms in North Dakota. He and my mom made all those experiences possible for me even in California (he sadly passed away two years ago). Thank you again. It was a wonderful read.

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