As soon as I saw Hide and Sneak by Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak I was transported back to my own home and the small shelf that now serves as place of pride for our most cherished childrens books. As a kid I was captivated by the vibrant colors, and intrigued by the way the little girl found her way back home.
Rereading the book as an adult was very enlightening–I recognized more of myself in the somewhat spacey girl who is directionally challenged but loves a good adventure. But more than that, I could see where echoes of more widely taught mythology surface in this cautionary tale. ‘Don’t get lost or the Ijiraq will hide you from us forever!’ is exactly the kind of story parents would tell their kids to keep them close to home, where the dangers of the natural environment are less likely to claim their lives.
I think it would be really easy to take this book as a jumping off point into cautionary tales as a genre, drawing on the class’s previous knowledge of stories they were told as kids to keep them safe, maybe segueing into the myth of Orpheus and comparing the two. Actually you could take the lens of more common understanding of myth structure and look at the ways this story differs–the girl doesn’t become more focused or better at hide and seek by the end of the story, she isn’t permanently punished for disobeying her parents, and most uniquely she saves herself entirely on her own! She figured out the Ijiraq didn’t like being stared at, and she found her way back to the village by following the inuksugaq without being told what it was for.
Overall I think this book holds up very well, and would be a good companion to a number of Lit classes. I’m excited by the prospect of using this unique tool in future years of teaching.