The Curse of the Shaman


Author: Michael Kusugak

Illustrator: Vladyana Krykorka

Published: 2006

Genre: Children, adventure

About: Instead of agreeing to an arranged marriage for his daughter, a short-tempered shaman cursed young Wolverine, much to the delight of the shaman's grumpy animal spirit.

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Review of The Curse of the Shaman

Qabluittuq, The-man-with-no-eyebrows, was happy. He had a son, his very first child. Tonight, his wife, Can't-see, was nursing the new baby. The little boy had a wrinkled face and black, slick hair, sticking out in all directions. The-man-with-no-eyebrows sat on the bed beside his wife, holding the baby's hands.

"Atausiq, marruuk, pingasut ... qulit!" he counted the tiny fingers. "One, two, three ... ten!" he exclaimed.

He took the baby's feet: "Atausiq, marruuk, pingasut ... qulit!" he counted the tiny toes. "One, two, three ... ten!" he shouted again. "A perfect boy!" The-man-with-no-eyebrows was a happy man, indeed.

Can't-see asked, "What shall we call him?"

"We will call him Qavvik—Wolverine," The-man-with-no-eyebrows said. "We will name him after my father."

...from page 1

Shortly after Wolverine's birth, his parents set out to find him a wife. They met up with Paaliaq and his baby daughter, Breath, and Wolverine's father asked the shaman if their children could be wed when they came of age. But Paaliaq was short-tempered and having a bad day. Instead of saying yes, he cursed young Wolverine, saying that when the boy reached marrying age, he would "never set foot on this land again!" His animal spirit, a grumpy siksik, was overjoyed and immediately began planning a way to carry out the curse.

This was a fascinating book. I learned about building igloos and making sealskin boots, and about legends and magic and Inuit celebrations. There was even a charming romance. Although this was a chapter book, meant for children to read to themselves, I think it would be fun to read aloud. Challenging, given all of the words and names in Inuktitut, but one could probably muddle through most of them. But then there were things like this song:

Piuluammat, nallinnammat

Fortunately, Kusugak provided translations of everything so even if I couldn't pronounce the words, at least I knew what they meant.

I really enoyed this book and I think children of all ages would too.

Reviewed by Lynn Bornath on 26 May 2008.

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Added 26 May 2008.
Updated 24 August 2013.