Barb Middleton's Reviews > Very Last First Time

Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews
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Feb 13, 12

bookshelves: realistic
Read in September, 2011

Imagine it is the middle of winter. Imagine you are with your mother going to find mussels. Imagine crawling through a hole in the ice, but instead of landing in icy water, you land on mud! The tide is out and your new-found ice cave has seaweed for carpet and icicles that hang from the thick ice roof like stalactites in a cave. Your mother doesn’t come with you as lower yourself into blackness, but she holds a flashlight over the hole like a beacon. You have to find mussels and you can’t get lost or you will drown when the tide comes in. This is what Eva has to do on a frigid winter day in northern Canada at her Inuit village. And it is her “very last, first time” she’ll do such a thing!

This is a fun book to read to grade 4 students. It is unpredictable and full of tension. The students are puzzled that it sounds like Eva and her mother are going for a swim because in the picture they are putting on their parkas. The students’ faces continue to crinkle in confusion when on the next page Eva and her mother walk through the Inuit village pulling sleds. The watercolor illustrations are beautiful and Ian Wallace, the illustrator has hidden images in the pictures. This is one of those books I can read again, and again, and again.

There is an excellent guide from Pacific Publishing on how to read this book aloud or with a child. The author explains on her website that she based this novel on something that Inuits do in Ungava Bay in Canada.
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