Quill and Quire

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The Raven and the Loon

by Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley; Kim Smith, illus.

In The Raven and the Loon, acclaimed Inuit author Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley and her husband, Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, draw on their knowledge of the culture to retell the traditional folktale of how the titular birds, originally sporting plain white plumage, came by their current appearances.

The story begins when Raven, bored with flying around the snowy landscape, pays a visit to Loon’s igloo. Loon sits sewing, patiently listening as Raven prattles on, until, bored by his own ramblings, Raven suggests they make new coats for each other. Dipping the sewing needle into ash from Loon’s lamp, Raven paints an intricate design on Loon’s white feathers. When Loon attempts to return the favour, Raven won’t stay still and Loon’s painstaking work is ruined. Furious, Loon throws the lamp at Raven, covering him completely in soot. Raven throws the lamp back at Loon, flattening her feet.

The simple words and exuberant tone will make it easy for younger listeners to follow the narrative, yet the story and characters are complex enough that the book should appeal to school-aged children as well. Kim Smith’s playful, eye-catching illustrations add a dramatic element to the story, bringing the characters to life and reinforcing the action with visual cues.

In addition to being an entertaining story, The Raven and the Loon is full of valuable messages. Children will learn the importance of being patient, taking pride in their work, exhibiting good manners, and managing their emotions. With its significant potential for generating discussion, this is a perfect book for school and library settings.