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The Legend of Lightning and Thunder P. I. Rumbolt



Rumbolt, Paula Ikuutaq. The Legend of Lightning and Thunder. Iqualuit, NV:  Inhabit Media, 2013. Print.

There are many Inuit stories that tell of the origins of things.  There are also many stories about orphans.  This book is a simple retelling of a legend that involves both and carries a gentle lesson.  It concludes that the presence of thunder and lightning in our world is the result of people neglecting and not caring for orphan children.  

Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt is an Inuit writer from Baker Lake, Nunavut.  She learned traditional Inuit stories and beliefs from her grandmother. The story is from “a time before stealing existed.  No one knew what it was, as it had never happened to anyone.”  When the orphan children are turned away from the camp, they must steal food to stay alive, which makes them permanent outcasts.  They steal caribou meat, a small caribou skin and a flint.  They discover that the skin will make noise and the flint will make sparks and have fun playing with them.  They soon realize, though, that they will be hunted by the people in the camp so they hide in the sky, where you can hear them today, playing with the skin and the flint, making thunder and lightning.    While the text is fairly easy to read, the presence of more difficult words such as “exhilarating” indicates that it is really intended to be shared by an adult and child.

While the story is simple, it is brought to life by Jo Rioux’s artwork. For each pair of pages, one is a full page comic-book style image showing Inuit people in village settings and doing traditional activities.  The facing page has a smaller image, with text usually printed over a light coloured sky.  The images are in a palette of soft browns and oranges, which shade to reds, particularly where magical things are being depicted. 

Young children will enjoy this book, as will anyone who appreciates Inuit legends.  This volume extends  Inhabit Media's track record of consistently high quality publications and authentic voices and sources.  Highly recommended for elementary school and public libraries.

Highly recommended:  4 stars out of 4
Reviewer:  Sandy Campbell

Sandy is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Alberta, who has written hundreds of book reviews across many disciplines.  Sandy thinks that sharing books with children is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.