Genre: Trickery / Folktale / Animals / Yupik / Giants
Year Published: 1993
Year Read: 2015
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books
It is rare that I read folktales from Yupik, so when I stumbled upon a book called “The Hungry Giant of the Tundra,” I just had to see for myself how this story would turn out and man was I extremely impressed with this story!
The story starts out with a group of children playing across the fields in a village far to the north. Even though the children were supposed to run home before the big giant A· ka· gua ·gan ·kak came across the tundra, the children were having so much fun that they decided not to go back to their homes and continued playing in the fields. Unfortunately, A· ka· gua ·gan ·kak manages to catch up to the children and ended up grabbing them and is about to eat them when he realized that he forgot his knife. So, he put the children into his trousers and left them in a tree while he went home to get his knife. It was then that the children saw a chickadee and they begged the chickadee to help them.
Can the chickadee and the crane save the children from the giant?
Read this book to find out!
Wow! I must admit that I was quite impressed with this book since I have never read a folktale from Yupik before! Teri Sloat has done an excellent job at retelling this ancient folktale from Yupik as the story is interesting and intense as I felt scared for the children and I wanted to see how they will get away from the giant in this story. I was also impressed with how the crane and the chickadee helped out the children with the chickadee using its strong beak to carry the trousers with the children inside out of harm’s way and the crane stretching its long legs to get the children across the river. It reminded me of other folktales where the main character receives help from other characters who possess special powers that can easily be used to help the main character out of their predicament. Robert and Teri Sloat’s artwork is truly amazing as I loved the Yupik influenced artwork and I thought that the giant look quite appropriate for the part of being menacing yet being dimwitted at the same time. I especially loved the scene where the giant took off his trousers and put the children inside them, since it was both hilarious and surprising to see such an image pop up in a children’s book!
Parents should know that the giant might scare smaller children, especially when it tried to eat the children. Parents might want to read this book first before reading it to their children to see if they can handle the scenes with the giant.
Overall, “The Hungry Giant of the Tundra” is a fantastic book that children who love books about giants should definitely check out! I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the images of the giant might scare smaller children.