Fox on the Ice
Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University. She is the author of several books, including The
Mountain Is Moving: Japanese Women’s Lives, Kurlek and Margaret
Laurence: The Long Journey Home.
One winter afternoon, Joe and Cody go ice fishing with Papa, Mama, and
Cody’s small black dog, Ootsie. After reaching the lake, the family
picnics on bannock and freshly caught broiled whitefish, and then naps
in the sun. Papa prepares two holes in the ice, one close to the shore
and the other far out in the lake, and drops his net. Fastened to the
net is a long piece of wood with a “jigger” on the end.
Meanwhile, a fox has smelled the family’s lunch. And the huskies
smell the fox. They set off in hot pursuit, dragging the sled with Mama
and Joe. Papa is forced to choose between losing his net and the jigger,
or losing Mama and Joe. Finally, Cody and Papa catch the sled. And in a
cheerful finale, Ootsie has saved the net, which is clamped firmly in
Fox on the Ice is the third book in Tomson Highway and Brian Deines’s
Songs of the North Wind series. (The first was Caribou Song and the
second, Dragonfly Kites.) The story is fast-paced and imaginative, and
written in both English and Cree (one language placed below the other,
page by page).
Brian Deines’s richly coloured illustrations are both dramatic and
lyrical; they project the intimacy of the Inuit family, the excitement
of Papa’s chase after the runaway sled, and the family’s joy at the
discovery that Ootsie has saved the precious fishing net. Deines has
been well recognized for both his art and his photography. His strong
yet sensitive illustrations for Dragonfly Kites earned him a Governor
General’s Literary Award nomination. Highly recommended.