Eagle Drums

Roaring Brook. Sept. 2023. 256p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250750655.
Gr 3-6–In this novelization of a traditional Iñupiaq tale, a boy named Piŋa is out hunting alone when approached by an eagle who transforms into a man. Following this eagle, he spends a year and a half learning new skills such as drumming, singing, dancing, and building large shelters. Those skills add to the thorough knowledge of survival and respect for animals that he has learned from his parents. Eventually, he takes these lessons back to his parents and together they share them with the Iñupiat people. Told in beautiful prose, this story evocatively describes life in the arctic, skillfully showing the frustrations and the beauty through Piŋa’s eyes. The pace is slow but consistent with a satisfying surprise at the end. Occasional full-page color illustrations are simple but add to the charm and help provide imagery for readers unfamiliar with the arctic. Across the tops of chapters are traditional imagery such as arrows and ulu knives in repeating patterns. Author Hopson draws on her own Iñupiat heritage and worked with several elders, detailed in her author’s note, to share this tale that forms the basis of the most important traditional Iñupiat feast.
VERDICT An authentic, beautiful Alaska Native tale presented as a novel perfect for upper elementary students.

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