Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk, illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis
Kulu has just been born and is being welcomed by the world. Kulu is Inuit and as the world comes to welcome the baby, traditional Inuit beliefs are shown in the story. It is the Arctic summer, so the first to welcome Kulu is Smiling Sun, who stays bright all through the night. The Wind arrives and teaches Kulu the importance of listening closely. Then the animals start arriving. These are not your normal animals, but ones that are specifically from the Arctic and of importance to the Inuit. With each animal comes a blessing: the Snow Bunting reminds Kulu to always believe in himself, Fox tells Kulu to get out of bed as soon as you wake and to help anyone who needs it. The entire book sings with a connection to nature, to this specific region of the earth, and for the love of a baby.
Kalluk, who is an Inuit throat singer, has beautifully captured the values of her people in this picture book. It is done so organically and naturally that many will not realize that this is more than a sweet picture book. The fact that it also weaves in traditions and values of the Inuit makes the book all the more special and noteworthy. Kalluk writes very lyrically, creating moments for each of the animals that are unique to them which keeps the book from becoming repetitious.
The illustrations have a lovely cartoon quality to them, one can almost see them leaping to life from the page. The large animals dwarf little Kulu by their bulk, but the tenderness they all feel for this tiny baby shines on the page. There is a respect between human and animal that is warm and tangible too.
A gorgeous and meaningful book welcoming a baby to the world, this picture book is unique and special. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from ARC received from Inhabit and Myrick Marketing.