I’ve recently started some research into fairytales and, while my focus has been on European myths, I have also been looking into other cultures.
I found this book to be very interesting. There are only six short stories, but they are well selected to cover a number of cultural aspects. I also enjoyed the short commentary provided after each story. It explained a bit about the symbolic significance of aspects of the story, as well as some cultural background necessary to appreciate the narrative.
Overall, it’s a a very short read, essentially a quick dip into Micmac storytelling. It’s by no means authoritative. The stories mostly have positive messages and, with the exception of a few scary moments, would be appropriate for kids.
As Qayaq’s siblings grow up, all leave home to seek their fortunes and never return. Qayaq, the youngest and last of his parents’ children, decides to go in search of his siblings. From there, the story cycles through episodes of Qayaq’s legendary journey over land and by kayak.
Qayaq has something of the trickster in him making these stories very interesting. In particular, I found the fluidity between the animal and human worlds very interesting. Qayaq is able to turn himself into animals and they into humans. Because the book is a collection of stories from an epic cycle each functions well alone and they make for a pleasantly varied experience if read all at once.
I especially enjoyed my edition because the edges of each page contained short summaries of the stories as well as illustrations that fit the action described. It may seem like only a small detail, but being able to see the Inupiat art along with the stories added a fantastic extra dimension.