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Charlie and the Blanket Toss
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About the Author

Tricia Brown is an author, editor, and book developer. She travels often and is a popular speaker in schools, libraries, and events in Alaska as well as the Lower 48. Her multimedia presentations, which include lessons on Alaska natural history and culture, regularly receive high praise from educators and parents. She loves to get kids excited about reading, writing, and art. www.triciabrownbooks.com Sarah Martinsen is an artist/illustrator living and working in Barrow, Alaska. She participates yearly in the Nalukataq festivities and has experienced firsthand the blanket toss and the fear and excitement that comes with it!

Reviews

"Charlie, a young Inupiaq boy, is joining the villagers for one of the most important celebrations of the year. After a whale hunt is successful, the entire community celebrates with a traditional feast, games, dances, and, most important, the blanket toss. While Charlie is very proud that his father was the captain of the whaling crew, he is nervous about the blanket toss, as it will be his first time being tossed so high above the ground--and in front of his entire town. Young readers will empathize with Charlie's fears in this sweet story. Illustrations show the Alaskan setting in a style that radiates joy and warmth. The text is a bit wordy for young children reading alone, and the pale images may not translate as well to a large group setting, but the content is a perfect way to introduce children to an this Native culture. Inupiaq words are scattered throughout the book (with pronunciations), and a glossary and a helpful note on Inupiat whaling tradition, including conservation efforts, appear at the end."--Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission. K-Gr 3
"A young boy overcomes his anxiety about taking a celebratory flip in this brief but immersive look at modern Inupiat village culture. Though Charlie's feelings about the toss--a traditional activity of the Nalukataq, or Summer Whaling Festival--are mixed, he looks forward to much of the rest of the celebration. He loves the drumming, the dancing, the proud sharing out of the bowhead whale that his father and other whalers have harvested, and particularly the uqsrukuaqtaq (doughnuts), mikigaq ("fermented whale meat with blubber and tongue"), akutuq ("ice cream" made with caribou fat) and other delectable foods that have been laid out on tables behind a tall windbreak of plastic sheets. Brown supplies pronunciation guides and definitions either in context or in the appended glossary for the many Inupiaq words in her short narrative. Though very thinly applied colors give the illustrations a diaphanous look, Martinsen provides plenty of culturally specific visual details as well as lots of smiling, round faces. Buoyed by his grandmother's tale of her own grandfather's blanket toss as well as memories of his older brother's, Charlie decides he's ready. A wordless spread with Charlie flying high over the curve of the Earth, a whale spouting in the background and the community holding the blanket tight says it all. Cultural details rather than a strong storyline dominate, but this informative glimpse of Native Americans successfully blending new and old lifeways is valuable nevertheless." --Kirkus Reviews
"'They say when my grandfather was a boy he could fly higher and see farther on the blanket than any of the men spotting from the pressure ridges. He wasn't much older than you.' Charlie is a boy who lives in Alaska. His father catches a whale, and the whole village will eat it. They are Inupiat, and they have hunted the whales for hundreds of years. The village is going to celebrate catching the whale, and Charlie is excited about it, because there will be food, and dancing, and games. But he is also worried because he will have to be tossed up on a blanket. They do the blanket toss because the hunters get tossed up on a blanket to see the whales. Charlie is scared to be up tossed up so high. Will he decide to do the blanket toss? Charlie and the Blanket Toss by Tricia Brown tells you about people who live in Alaska and the celebration they have because they catch the whales. It is interesting to learn about how people live there and in another place. I can understand how Charlie feels because sometimes I am nervous about doing something new too. There were a lot of words that are hard to read because they are in a different language. If children are interested in learning about people who live in Alaska, they will like this book." --San Diego Book Review

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