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Tuk and the Whale

Written by Raquel Rivera

Illustrated by Mary Jane Gerber

  • 96 Pages
  • 9780888998910
  • 7.500" x 5.060"
  • Reading age from 8 to 10
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / Canada / Pre-Confederation (to 1867)
  • JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / Canada / Native Canadian
  • JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / Polar Regions


Publication Date April 01, 2008

This story is set on the eastern coast of Baffin Island in the early decades of the 1600s. Told from the point of view of a young Inuit boy, Tuk, it imagines what might have happened if the people of Tuk's Baffin Island winter camp had encountered European whalers, blown far north from their usual whaling route. Both the Inuit hunters and the whalers prize the bowhead whale, but for very different reasons. Together, they set out on a hunt, though they are all on new and uncertain ground.

Scrupulously researched, this beautifully told story will inspire extremely topical discussion about communication between two groups of people with entirely different world views; and about a productive partnership that also foreshadows serious problems to come.

Short-listed for the QWF Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature 2008


Raquel Rivera
Raquel Rivera has a degree in Fine Arts and has worked as a copywriter, freelance writer and illustrator, photographer's assistant, and a teacher of English and life drawing. Her book review website, In My Hysterical Opinion, is at Raquel lives in Montreal with her husband and two children.

Mary Jane Gerber
Mary Jane Gerber has illustrated several books for children, including A Gift for Ampato by Susan Vande Griek and House Calls by Ainslie Manson. She lives in Orangeville, Ontario.


"Through the eyes and voice of Tuk, a young Inuit boy, readers see, hear and feel the excitement and apprehension that the lost whalers' arrival engenders...[a] simple, elegant, eloquent tale...Mary Jane Gerber's delightful pen-and-ink drawings capture moments large and small." Globe and Mail

"Tuk and the Whale is a story that provides a glimpse into what life was like for the Inuit people very early on in the whaling industry...[Raquel Rivera does] an exceptional job of seamlessly waeving details of her research...Young readers will enjoy reading this book, and it would make an excellent introduction to a unit on the whaling industry and the Inuit culture."

"Black-and-white illustrations show the action at a distance and help readers visualize the vast and flat terrain." School Library Journal

"The style is low-key and pared down but smooth, and the picture of seventeenth-century Inuit life is credibly drawn and narratively appropriate, avoiding the determined documentary flavor of some historical work." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books