PPBF #3 from the Archives — Northern Lights: The Soccer Trails

This was first posted in December 2011 on my old blog.

Title:  Northern Lights: the soccer trails

Author:  Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak

Illustrator:  Vladyana Krykorka

Publisher:  Vancouver/Toronto: Annick Press, 1993

Genre:  Picture book, fiction (including a retelling of an Inuit legend) Note: because this was written in 1993, it is much wordier than current picture books.

Audience Age:  ages 4 – 7

Theme:  Dealing with a loved one’s death. Inuit life. (From publisher’s lesson plan: Storytelling, Legends and folktales, Native people, Death/loss, Science and nature, Multicultural tales, Arctic, Community)

Opening Sentences: A long time ago, when Kataujaq was little, her mother said, “We called you Kataujaq because, when you were born, you were as pretty as a rainbow.”

Synopsis:  The deep bond between an Inuit mother and daughter is described in the first pages, from the point of view of the little girl, Kataujaq. When illness comes to their northern village, the mother is sent south, and never comes back. The little girl is too young to be told her mother has died, she just knows her mother never came back. When the entire community is out playing a traditional Inuit version of soccer one dark winter night, the Northern Lights appear. Kataujaq’s grandmother explains that the Inuit believe that those who have died are in the sky, and some nights, they too play soccer across the skies, and that is what we see as the Northern Lights. The little girl finds comfort in this.

Activities/Resources: There is a lesson plan (pdf format) for Grades 1-4 at the publisher’s website.

Availability:  Readily available through amazon and other such outlets in paperback

# 3 in Perfect Picture Book Fridays. See all this week’s Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog, or find the entire listing at her Perfect Picture Books page.

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