Two Canes on the Tundra
Two Canes on the Tundra
written by Mary Tellefson
Special Needs - Blind Community - Yupik Community
For Ages 10-14
Two Canes on the Tundra features a twelve-year-old Alaskan Yupik boy who is the only blind person in his village. Teasing at school has caused him to reject the tool he needs to reach his goal of not needing to be guided: a mobility cane. But is the teasing any worse than relying on his cousin to guide him everywhere he wants to go? Through the stories his Grandfather tells about ancestors surviving the Alaskan Wilderness using various tools, Apu begins to view his cane as a tool for self-sufficiency and a path to the kind of courage he admires.
This story highlights the importance of supportive relationships within a culture and the continuity of ancestral courage. Themes of interdependence, independence, bullying, disability, the power of storytelling, native culture, and resilience make this a perfect choice for classrooms, individuals, and families.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mary Tellefson has been a teacher for visually impaired and blind students, ages birth to 98, for over 40 years. A well-respected professional in her field, she has given workshops all over the US and has published in multiple peer-review journals. Her inspiration for Two Canes on the Tundra came from her time working for Portland State University in their teacher training program, during which she accompanied a practicum student to a remote Alaskan village to observe her work with a blind Yupik boy. There, she sensed some cultural sensitivity to using the white cane and wondered how she might influence a more positive perception of the cane in a culturally respectful way. It occurred to her that storytelling and ceremony are the media for passing values from generation to generation in any culture, which inspired her to write this story and to rely on storytelling within it as a way to resolve Apu’s dilemma. She was privileged to find a Yupik illustrator to provide the beautiful artwork within, which was one of many measures taken to help keep the story culturally authentic.
Mary has two more publications upcoming. Blooming Besties (Orange Hat Publishing) is the story of a blind elementary school student, Ruby, and her goofy, sighted sidekick, Charleigh. Themes of blindness, using a cane, responsibility, lying, bullying, no-tolerance policies, inclusion and growing up with a best friend weave together a storyline spanning the girls’ fourth through seventh grade years. A professional text entitled Culturally Responsive Orientation and Mobility Career, College and Community Readiness Standards is in publication with Austin Macauley Publishers.
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:
Destine Poulsen is a first-time book illustrator. She is well known in her native Yupik culture for winning the Festival of Native Arts logo contest in 2020.
Please contact Shannon Ishizaki for wholesale pricing options:
shannon@orangehatpublishing | 414-212-5477