Ice Whale


Whale joy!  Have you ever seen one of those videos or even been so fortunate in real life to see  an enormous whale bound out of the ocean water and joyfully soar into the air?  It's such an amazing thing to see and feel.  This story holds the presence of that whale and its joy as the human beings stumble and make mistakes that change the natural world.

On July 23, 1848 in the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia our story begins.  An American whaling ship with great hopes for a successful whale slaughter is exploring these new  waters to see how profitable they might be.  A young Eskimo boy named Toozak seeing those same waters through the eyes of his ancestors watches as a bowhead whale is born.  He names the whale Siku and as the whale calf rolls in the water his eye catches the eye of Toozak and in that moment a connection... a bond... is born that will stretch across generations.

Falling prey to  human emotion, this same Toozak will pridefully tell a Yankee boat of whalers where to find the whales in his ocean.  Realizing what he has done, the betrayal he has just perpetrated, he turns to his father and then to the village shaman to learn what he can do to atone.  Is there anything he can do to undo the great harm he has done to the whales and their spirits?

In that moment a curse is brought down on the head of generations of Toozaks.  They are banished and are tasked with protecting Siku until either they save his life or he saves theirs.

This is a story told through the generations of Toozaks, and a whaling family descended from the original whaling captain character whose sailors began the whaling in the Bering Sea.  The presence of the power of nature sings out.  The wisdom of the Eskimos with their knowledge of the natural world reigns supreme.  

The disregard of nature and her cycles and processes by the commercial interests whether whalers or oil-seekers, is showcased in despicable light.  

One of the most magical parts of the book is the use of a symbol for the character of Siku. Rather than spelling out his name, he is represented by a symbol that looks like a musical wave... his whale song.  

The symbol gently underlines the quiet but significant presence of these amazing creatures and our bond with them.  They sing to us.  We can sing back.  

This is an important book for our children to read.  They need to learn they are part of the natural world.  They need to know they are connected to all things in the natural world.  They need to accept their responsibility for the natural world.  Finally they need to come to know the value of the natural world that holds them.  It's their world.  It's our world.  Let's tune into it as deeply as we can and grow the respect for wilderness on land and in the sea that ultimately protects us and gives us what we truly need for body and soul.


Read Alike:  MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN trilogy

189 pages    978-0803737457   Ages  9-13

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,

Read Alike:  MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN trilogy

Pair with THE WOLVES ARE BACK by Jean Craighead George

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