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Multicultural Children's Literature
Kitaq Goes Ice Fishing
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by Margaret Nicolai
Paintings by David Rubin

The village of Kwethluk in Southwest Alaska is home to about 500 people, "almost all Yup'ik Eskimos . . . [who] live a subsistence lifestyle [depending] on the Kwethluk river for their major food source,"[i] fish. Kitaq Goes Ice Fishing tells the tale of a young boy, not yet six, who reaches a milestone in his village – becoming a fisherman. Although Kitaq is not yet old enough to go to school, he is big enough to walk with his grandfather all the way to the river and back again. After helping his grandfather re-open the fishing hole in the ice-covered river, Kitaq catches three pike, just one of which is big enough to feed his entire family for dinner.


Written by Margaret Nicolai, whose husband is a native of Kwethluk, this story is based on her husband's tales of growing up in Kwethluk in the 1960s. "About the Author" tells us that Nicolai wrote the book for her sons, to help them acknowledge their heritage. The book tenderly reveals much about the Yup'ik culture and lifestyle. We gain an understanding of strong family ties – Kitaq's respect for his elders and grandfather's pride in his grandson – and the rigors of life in this remote village.


Illustrator David Rubin, a long-time Alaska resident, authentically illustrates this book in oil on canvas. Rubin's illustrations catch the warmth of the family's kitchen and their love for each other while also capturing the icy cold environment made brilliant by a few hours of sunlight.


This book is a treat to be shared!

[i] Author's note, About the Yup'ik Village of Kwethluk.



Nicolai, Margaret. 1998. Kitaq goes fishing. Illus. David Rubin. Anchorage, AK: Alaska Northwest. ISBN 0-88240-504-7.

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