Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Children's Nonfiction Native Canadian

Arctic Adventures

Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists

by (author) Raquel Rivera

illustrated by Jirina Marton

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Jun 2007
Native Canadian, Art, Polar Regions
Recommended Age
6 to 9
Recommended Grade
1 to 4
Recommended Reading age
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2007
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Download Teacher’s Guide

Download Teacher’s Guide

Where to buy it


The land, hunting, hunger, magic and extreme weather are themes that resonate for Inuit who live in the Far North. These stories, drawn from the lives of four Inuit artists, offer young readers a glimpse into this rich, remote culture, past and present. Accompanying each story are illustrations by Jirina Marton, who has spent time in the Arctic and whose deep appreciation for its subtle beauty shines through her art. In addition to the stories, there is a feature spread on each artist with a photograph, a brief biography and a reproduction of one of the artist's works.

About the authors

Raquel Rivera was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. After graduating York University with a B.F.A. in Visual Arts in 1987, Raquel Rivera moved to Barcelona, Spain, for two years. There she found work as a teacher of English, pursued her drawing and learned Spanish.

Some years later, she left Toronto again to live in Singapore. While working as a project manager and copywriter for a graphic design firm there, Raquel was able to produce a series of artist books. Her "Small Books" now tour North America in Projet mobilivre/Bookmobile ( and are included in the collection at Montreal's Bibliograph/e Zine Library (

In 1996 Raquel and her future husband Kim moved one country north, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They started a website design practice and founded Site Dish! ( to house interactive projects experimenting with art, writing and interface design for the web. At the same time, Raquel was able to pursue her writing and drawing online in web art collaborations with Montreal-based artist, Jeannette Lambert—work which was featured in online journals and festivals around that time.

In 1999 Raquel began raising a family and focusing exclusively on her own writing and art. She has since published poems, exhibited her drawings and written three children's books: Arctic Adventures, Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists, Orphan Ahwak and Tuk and the Whale.

Raquel maintains a book review website, In My Hysterical Opinion. She now lives in Montreal with her husband and two children.

Raquel Rivera's profile page

Jirina Marton has exhibited her paintings throughout Europe, Canada, and Japan. She has illustrated many children's books, including Little Books of Northern Tales: The Bear Says North by Bob Barton, Arctic Adventures: Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists by Raquel Riveria, Marja's Skis by Jean E. Pendziwol, which was a Governor-General's Award finalist for illustration, and Bella's Tree by Janet Russell, which won the 2009 Governor General's Award for illustration. Jirina lives in Colborne, Ontario.

Jirina Marton's profile page


  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens (Starred Selection)
  • Commended, USBBY Outstanding International Books
  • Commended, Quill & Quire Books of the Year 2007 List

Editorial Reviews

Through the simple and effective technique of narrating dramatic episodes in the lives of four Inuit artists...Rivera gives us a taste of a vanished way of life, a sense of the unimaginable hardships that shaped these artists' characters, and a glimpse of their work that grew so organically from their experiences on the land...Marton's artistry makes the reader experience the uncertainty and thrill of visual discovery.


...a wealth of information on Inuit culture, both past and present...

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

...a great story-time read...four stars.

Sarah's Stars

This book beautifully balances stories that document a vanishing way of life, aboriginal art, and information about the Arctic. Children will thoroughly enjoy the stories, and teachers will relish this contribution to the all-too-scarce resources for the curriculum about Canada's North. It is a little gem.

CM Magazine

...a clever way to introduce art to young readers and works seamlessly to offer up both a compelling story and the beauty of a lesser-known art.

Today's Parent

This book, a must for bookstores, rates as a sophisticated and innovative introduction to Inuit art and culture and is one of the best Canadian children's non-fiction titles to emerge so far in 2007.

Canadian Bookseller

Rivera's unpretentious storytelling is perfectly suited to these tales, which resonate with mythic force...evidence that an alien way of life can be powerfully transmuted and shared.

Toronto Star

...a delightful book and the illustrations bring the story beautifully to life. It is well worth adding to any collection...

Resource Links

...[this] book has a lot to offer.

Multicultural Review

Beautiful the individual people and creatures in the Arctic landscape close up, sometimes with an edge of magical realism.


Librarian Reviews

Arctic Adventures: Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists

Arctic Adventures is a book about Inuit artists that takes the interesting approach of telling short stories from events in the lives of the artists as an introduction to their lives and work. The stories also convey information about the lifestyle and culture of the Inuit in the 20th century. Each story is followed by a short biography of the artist along with an example of their work and a photograph of them at work. The individual stories are not illustrated by the artists themselves, but with work by Raquel Rivera. The artists profiled are Pudlo Pudlat, Kenojuak Ashevak, Jessie Oonark and Lazarusie Ishulutak. The work includes a glossary.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2007-2008.

Arctic Adventures: Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists

Two wonderful new books introduce young people to Inuit artists and their work: Stones, Bones and Stitches: Storytelling through Inuit Art by Shelley Falconer and Shawna White and Arctic Adventures: Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists by Raquel Rivera, illustrated by Jirina Marton. Each author takes a different approach to convey the deep connection between art and life in the North.

Falconer and White, curators from The McMichael Collection, take a more straightforward non-fiction approach and yet find a unique way to unfold the information in an interesting format. Each section starts with a quote from the artist, a biographical overview of their life, with an accompanying full-page photograph of a piece of their work. This is followed by an interpretative analysis of the piece; and then short paragraphs explaining cultural references, artistic techniques, language, customs, geography and whatever else needs explanation to appreciate and enhance the understanding of the life and work being presented.

The six artists chosen each have a distinct style so the range of artistic expression coming out of the North is well-documented and the pieces chosen are dramatic and compelling. No young reader could not be transfixed by David Ruben Piqtoukun’s stone sculpture Alliok or his incredibly beautiful sculpture Shaman Returning from the Moon. Oviloo Tunnillie’s sculpture Woman Quarrying Stone feels like it could come to life; as does Joe Talirunili’s rougher, unrefined work titled The Migration, a sculptural depiction of a life and death situation from his childhood. And Kenojuak Ashevak’s fantastical flower bird prints are an inspiration for the imagination.

In Arctic Adventures, Raquel Rivera starts with stories. She gracefully shapes an event from the artist’s life and then follows the tale with a two-page spread introducing the artist with brief details from their life and artistic career. The drama of the stories leads the reader to the artists such as the story from Jessie Oonark’s life which ends as she is rescued by an RCAF plane after five days stranded in a storm with her daughter. Her biographical page picks up her life story from that moment onward and the work reproduced is a drawing from that event. What emerges is an understanding of how Inuit artists’ lives inform and inspire their work, at times, experiences directly rendered into a drawing or a sculpture.

Jirina Marton’s illustrations, which accompany each tale, are rich and beautiful. Her layered technique creates such subtlety and depth that there is a sculptural quality to the artwork. She imbues her illustrations with light that seems to emanate from beyond the page. The rectangular spreads that open each section stunningly capture the otherworldliness of the Arctic landscape.

The storytelling impulse behind Inuit art makes it a natural subject for a young audience. These books open windows to that art, the stories, the people and their way of life. Highly recommended for every child, classroom and library.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2007. Vol.30 No.4.

Arctic Adventures: Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists

Through stories and biographies, Raquel Rivera provides readers with sophisticated and innovative tributes to four Inuit artists. A photo of each artist and his or her work accompanies each biography. Author’s note, map, glossary and further reading list included.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2008.

Other titles by Raquel Rivera

Other titles by Jirina Marton