The Orphan and the Polar Bear
Publication Date: May 2012
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In the world of Inuit traditional stories, animals and humans are not such different creatures. Animals can speak to, understand, and form relationships with humans.
In The Orphan and the Polar Bear an orphaned boy who is abandoned on the sea ice by a group of cruel hunters is discovered and adopted by a polar bear elder. While living in the polar bear’s village, the orphan learns many lessons about survival, but most importantly, he learns something about himself and his own place in the world.
This book—retold for contemporary audiences by Inuit elder Sakiasi Qaunaq and illustrated by internationally renowned artist Eva Widermann—makes this beautiful traditional tale widely accessible for the first time.
Sakiasi Qaunaq was born in 1942, at Alangnarjuk, a campsite near Igloolik, but has lived most of his life in the Arctic Bay area. His grandmother told him stories as a child—including The Orphan and the Polar Bear—and fostered in him a love for traditional legends that persists to this day. In his youth the stories were told for entertainment, but today he feels their re-telling is crucial to sustaining Inuit traditions and culture. Eva Widermann is a graduate of the graphic and design program at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany. She worked as a graphic designer for many years before she decided to pursue her long-term dream of becoming a freelance illustrator and concept artist. Her art is deeply influenced by an unusual combination of Franco- Belgian comics, manga, and anime. Eva has worked with Inhabit Media on various projects, including www.inuitmyths.com and Arctic Giants, to bring ancient Inuit mythology to life for a contemporary audience. She lives in Cork, Ireland.