Summary: When Kannujaq finds himself in the midst of a Tuniit community under attack from the Skraelings, he uses his knowledge as an Inuit to help them end up victorious. Given the Tuniit’s history of being poor hunters, Kannujaq is not surprised they need his help, but he is surprised to find a slave and the community’s shaman are both originally Inuit. As he discovers the whole story about the Skraelings he realises the situation is more complex than he thought, and Kannujaq begins to see the bigger picture of having to share his people’s land with others.
Number of Pages: 87
Age Range: 12-13
Review: Geared more for pre-teen readers and perhaps early teen readers, Skraelings by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-TInsley is none-the-less an action-packed read about one of the initial confrontations between the Vikings and the Tuniit.
The story was difficult to get into at first because it was such a completely different perspective. Imagine living on a land mass pre-colonization, having no concept of nationalities and believing that other peoples aren’t actually people at all. In that respect, Skraelings is a powerful story about Kannujaq’s realisations as he battles the Vikings, an invader from another continent, something that has no meaning for him.
I enjoyed reading as Kannujaq discovered things I had already figured out, like Siku’s origins. For being steeped in his beliefs, Kannujaq comes off as very open-minded and willing to change what he knows. He’s quite the intriguing character. I also loved learning about the the Land as a character in its own right.
I ended up wishing Kannujaq’s story was longer, but still thought there was a lot packed into its 87 pages.
“That kind of quiet has a heaviness to it. A life of its own, you might say. And that is the sort of quiet our hunter was used to.” – from Skraelings by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, page 2
“The Land, despite its dangers, had never frustrated him. The Land had never lied, or grasped, or pretended to be anything other than what it was. It was only the narrow-minded behaviour of humanity that could leave Kannujaq feeling this way – hollow and weak.” Kannujaq from Skraelings by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, page 44
“‘Hardly,’ Kannujaq thought to himself. But he did not speak. He knew that one must never interrupt a story. To do so was to insult a storyteller’s isuma. He decided to interrupte Siaq only if she tried to throw more stuff on the fire.” – Kannujaq from Skraelings by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, page 54