FICTION

Qaqavii

Red Deer. Sept. 2019. 246p. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9780889955707.
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Gr 6-9–For 16-year-old Emmylou, her new town of Churchill, Manitoba, is a lonely place, where tourists come every fall to see the polar bears who roam the nearby tundra. When she is about to run away, Emmylou meets an Inuk boy and his team of sled dogs who are training for the 250-mile Arctic Quest sled race, and she finds a reason to stay. Barnabas and his elderly grandparents seem to be the family that she has been missing, and from them she learns about Inuit customs, food, language, and clothing. She is intrigued by the history of the area and its people, especially with stories of the Sayisi Dene, who were forcibly relocated to Churchill, and she visits the Itsanitaq Museum and local library to do research for her homeschooling requirement. When the time comes for the Arctic Quest, she unsurprisingly accompanies Barnabas on the harsh and dangerous race. Körner writes from her experience as a newcomer who became intrigued with dogsledding and who ran the Quest herself. She also includes Inuktitut words in the story. Emmylou and her prejudiced mother have an antagonistic relationship, and while their conflict is not fully resolved, Emmylou gains confidence, some understanding of her mother, and a feeling of belonging in her new home.
VERDICT The high adventure of the dogsled race and fascinating background of the Native peoples may be enough to keep readers of adventure stories interested in this coming-of-age tale

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