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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide

Honoring Alaska's Indigenous Literature

Margie Karasti

The Eye of the Needle
Retold and Illustrated by Teri Sloat
Based on a Yupik tale as told by Betty Huffman

For eleven years the author and her husband had lived and taught in Yupik villages in Southwest Alaska. Teri liked this story since it combines many elements often found in Yupik tales. She dedicated this book to Betty Huffman, who was also a Teacher and whom she had met during her career. She states that Mrs. Huffman is eager to preserve the Yupik Culture through her authentic retelling of their stories.

Ms. Sloat wrote and illustrated From Letter to Letter, which was named a New York Times Best Picture Book of the Year for Children in 1989. The author and her family of three children now reside in Sebastopol, California. She also retold another Yupik tale "The Hungry Giant of the Tundra", which she got from Lillian Michael from Kwethluk, Alaska.

This story is based upon a Yupik tale as told by Betty Huffman. It's about a little boy named Amik who is sent out by his grandmother to find food during the spring, when food usually is scarce in the spring. His grandmother's needle comes in handy during the story when Amik needs assistance while entering his home.

There is no specific region stated other than it is a Yupik tale and the author states that she had lived and taught in Yupik villages for eleven years. Teri's illustrations capture the rugged beauty of the land, seasides, and animals ranging in sizes from smallest to largest. The interesting part of the illustration was of a sailboat as part of what Amik had swallowed.

This book is well written and the illustrations are brilliant and coincide with the story. Readers young and old will enjoy reading this literature book and this story contains no misleading information that may cause stereotypical thinking to anyone.

This would be a supplementary element to a literacy block assignment where students can apply the sequence of events to a story map either by writing about it or illustrate the scenes of the story. The illustrations can be discussed in how color was used throughout the book and be applied for an extended art activity.

The book reviews are a result of students enrolling in special topics course Ed 493 Examining Alaska Children's Literature taught by Esther A. Ilutsik in the Spring of 2004.

The book reviews are written by the students and are a reflection of their own analysis of the books and have not been altered in any way. The reviewers have given permission to share the book reviews on the HAIL website.






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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
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Last modified August 14, 2006