Honoring Alaska's Indigenous Literature
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
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.