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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Shipwreck (The) : The Inuk Quartet Volume 1
by Jørn Riel
Age Range: 9-11
In the year 1000CE, Leiv Steinursson is a young Viking who has left home to avenge his father’s murder. After following the killer on his journey into exile, Leiv finds himself on a ship bound for Greenland. When they are shipwrecked off the coast Leiv is rescued by Apuluk and Narua, a brother and sister from the Inuit tribe. They take him to a place of safety and care for him because they know they cannot take Leiv home with them because their tribes’ Shamen believes that all foreigners are evil spirits.
Eventually Leiv is introduced to the Inuit tribe and they accept him in their community. Through their adventures together, Leiv discovers a different way of life which is based on friendship, tolerance, and a profound respect for the natural world.
Shipwreck gives a vivid account of the Inuit culture and lifestyle including their dwellings, diet, dress and celebrations. In some respects this is quite a harsh tale: Leiv loses several toes due to frostbite, hunting for food and Apuluk’s attack by a polar bear are often described in graphic detail.
Danish author Jørn Riel’s inspiration came from sixteen years of living in Greenland. First published in Denmark in 1979, Riel’s adventure story evokes the traditional life of the Inuit people. The Shipwreck is the first volume in the Inuk Quartet and his debut in the English language.
Aimed at intermediate readers this chapter book employs a large font, short chapters and full-page bold watercolors illustrations by Helen Cann that capture the bleak Artic landscape. The adventure story should appeal particularly to boys and also be a useful addition in any classroom as there is so much detail about the Inuit and their way of life and culture.