picture book with beloved Greenlandic myth

retold by Tupaarnaq Rosing-Olsen, illustrated by Miki Jacobsen
Trans. title: The Whale, the Eagle, and the Two Little Girls

The little girl ran as fast as she could down to the men in the umiaq, and they set off rowing with all their might towards the mainland.
“Alright now, hurry up!” the whale said, and the stone did as it was asked to do and answered “Wait a little!” But the whale heard that it was not the little girl who had answered him and he was furious. He threw himself into the water with a mighty splash and swam after the umiaq as fast as he could. The men were rowing as hard and as fast as possible, but it was as if a rope was tied to the boat and the whale was gaining on them
As the whale was just about to reach them, the rowers hollered to the girl: “Throw your kamiks* in the water.” Immediately she pulled her kamiks off and threw them into the water. The whale threw itself on them, flapping all around until the water foamed, but then it discovered that the girl was still in the umiaq, and the whale turned to pursue the fugitives. As the whale once again got close to the boat, the rowers hollered to the little girl: “Throw in your fur coat!” She flung her fur coat into the water, and the whale threw himself upon it and the men in umiaq managed to get a new lead on the whale. But then the whale discovered that he had yet again been fooled, and he tore after the boat almost catching up with them.
“Throw your pants in” the rowers hollered. At once she threw her pants out to the whale who, leaped out of the water and fell back down on them with a mighty splash, but now the umiaq had reached the mainland and the men jumped out of the boat. At that moment, the whale washed ashore, and he started to change, his head morphing back into the carcass it had been before. And this is how they saved the little girl from the whale.

*Inuit boots made out of the pelt of seal


the book

Two small girls are playing house at the edge of the water. Since they don’t have anyone to play ”daddy” they pretend that one marries a whale skeleton and the other marries an eagle. But they should never have done this – the whale skeleton comes to life and kidnaps one of the girls while the other one is carried off by the eagle. The settlement mourns but works together to rescue the girl from the whale. The other one is in the eagle’s nest – much to far away and much to high up. Fortunately, she is very cunning and manages to get away by herself. The eagle comes after her but is killed by the men of the settlement and both girls are safe with their families once more.

This book is one of series of four, all of which are retold in richly-illustrated books for children. The stories are sometime scary and bizarre, but they all have a strong moral and are interesting reminders of Greenland’s history and heritage. This book was originally published by Atuakkiorfik in 1994. This is an up-dated version, still being true to the original.

NB! This story is available in English to view if interested in international publishing rights

in the same series

Sassuma Arnaanut pulaarneq