Author: George, Jean Craighead
In 1848, ten-year-old Toozak, a Yupik Eskimo, sees a whale being born and is told by a shaman that he and his descendants must protect that whale, which Toozak names Siku, as long as it lives.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.30
Points: 5.0 Quiz: 166596
Kirkus Reviews (03/15/14)
School Library Journal (05/01/14)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 05/01/2014 George’s final novel, completed posthumously by two of her children, begins in 1848 when Toozak, an Eskimo boy, witnesses the birth of Siku, a bowhead whale. It’s an auspicious sight, but when Toozak accidentally leads Yankee whalers to an Eskimo whale-hunting ground, he must make up for his mistake by protecting Siku for the rest of the whale’s life—which can last 200 years. For two centuries, generations of Toozaks wait for the yearly return of the bowheads, diligently warn Siku away from danger, and witness the gradual modernization of their region and the slow decline of traditional practices. In chapters alternating between the Toozaks’ and Siku’s perspectives, George packs in detail about Eskimo traditions—from whale hunting to spirituality—and bowhead behaviors, including communication, some of which is rendered in squiggles representing whale songs. As usual, her research is clearly extensive, and it’s helped along by Hendrix’s informative opening illustrations. Though some human characters are occasionally wooden, this quiet story offers a compelling glimpse into the history of a way of life. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 05/01/2014 Gr 4–6—A final, posthumous nature story from the Newbery Award winner. This dreamy, epic tale entwines the life of Siku, a bowhead (or ice) whale of the Arctic Ocean, with the lives of several generations of two human families, the Toozaks and the Boyds. Toozak the first, who witnessed Siku's birth, is sworn to protect the great whale, a mission that influences the fate of his family from 1848 through a speculative 2048. Chapters alternate the points of view among members of both families, and of Siku himself, whose name and other whale sounds are rendered in transcribed vibrations. The writing, completed with the help of George's children Craig and Twig, is uneven and sometimes a bit stilted—only one or two characters fully realized. The nature writing fares better, especially the whale's eye-view narrative and the detailed descriptions of underwater travel and sound. Ice Whale is not the author's finest work, but it's a bold, wistful, and heartfelt coda to a distinguished career.—Katya Schapiro, Brooklyn Public Library - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.