When I first learned of today’s Perfect Picture Book, I was fascinated by its far-away setting and the chance to learn more about a lifestyle and culture about which I knew very little.
Title: The Moose of Ewenki
Written By: Gerelchimeg Blackcrane
Illustrated By: Jiu Er
Translated By: Helen Mixter
Publisher/Date: Aldana Libros, an imprint of Greystone Kids/2019
Suitable for Ages: 5-9
Themes/Topics: Moose, Inner Mongolia, friendship, disappearing lifestyles, human-animal bonds, being different, taking responsibility for actions
The Reindeer Ewenki people live in the vast forest of the Greater Hinggan Mountains in northern China. They hunt and raise reindeer.
Brief Synopsis: When a reindeer herder and hunter accidentally shoots a mother moose, he adopts her orphaned baby, Xiao Han (Little Moose), and raises her.
Links to Resources:
- Learn about Inner Mongolia, a semi-autonomous area of northwest China and the setting of this story;
- Gree Shek, the main human character in this story, lives with dogs and reindeer in a camp in a forest. Do you have animals in your home? Have you ever had an unusual pet or befriended an unusual wild animal?
- Learn about moose, the largest of the deer family;
- View scenes from a reindeer camp in Mongolia, which may have been similar to Gree Shek’s camp.
Why I Like this Book:
The Moose of Ewenki is a story in translation from Inner Mongolia, in northwest China, based on a true story from the region. In the story, we meet an elderly hunter and herdsman, Gree Shek, who lives alone in a camp with the reindeer and hunting dogs. When Gree accidently shoots and kills a female moose with a fawn, Gree takes responsibility for the young moose, raising her in the camp among the reindeer.
This is a gentle story in which children can learn about a disappearing lifestyle and a culture vastly different from their own. The foods Gree eats and shares with Xiao Han, his living accommodations, and his clothing differ from that of a typical western family, and the text and illustrations offer numerous opportunities for discussion.
The important theme of taking responsibility for our actions runs through this story, even to the point of letting go of a friend when necessary.
Jui Er’s soft, earth-toned illustrations bring this world to life, from the wilderness scenes that show the vastness and isolation of the region to the camp and village scenes which highlight this indigenous way of life.
A Note about Craft:
Per the jacket flap, The Moose of Ewenki is based on a true tale of an older hunter buried in the rugged forests of Inner Mongolia, his faithful dog, who guarded the grave, and the lone moose that wandered the forests there. From this tale, Blackcrane and Jui Er have crafted a picture book that is a window into a disappearing lifestyle that celebrates the natural world and humans’ place among the animals, and our responsibility to it.
From the publishers, Blackcrane is a multi-award-winning author from Inner Mongolia, who raises and trains Mongolian shepherd dogs. Jiu Er is an award-winning fine artist from Beijing, China.
Aldana Libros, an imprint of Greystone Kids (part of Greystone Books), is a Canadian publisher that brings “outstanding books to the English-speaking market, by international authors and illustrators who want to communicate their own cultural realities.”
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!