Cover image for Minuk : ashes in the pathway
Minuk : ashes in the pathway
Hill, Kirkpatrick.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Middleton, Wis. : Pleasant Co. Publications, [2002]

Physical Description:
198 pages : illustrations ; 18 cm.
Twelve-year-old Minuk's traditional Eskimo way of life is changed forever in 1892 with the arrival of Christian missionaries.
Reading Level:
940 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.1 5.0 62894.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.5 10 Quiz: 32588 Guided reading level: T.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Series
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



When missionaries come to her village along with Upper Kuskokwim River, Minuk is fascinated. However, disaster soon strikes, and Minuk learns firsthand that while the white people's medicine is strong, so are their diseases. Illustrations.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-6. In an 1890s Alaskan village, 12-year-old Minuk contrasts her traditional Yup'ik Indian culture to that of newly arrived white missionaries. Focusing at first on daily life, she effectively conveys customs of the Yup'iks located in forested areas with fascinating details about their food, clothing, hunting, and family arrangements. During the course of a year, as Minuk matures, she becomes more appreciative of her close community and well-honed traditions, but she begins to question her culture, including its subordination of women. She casts a critical eye, too, on the missionaries who teach her English and give her work, seeing both their strengths and weaknesses. The leisurely pace and optimistic tone of the story abruptly change when an influenza epidemic, foreshadowed by descriptions of an earlier smallpox tragedy, ends Minuk's secure way of life. Children who enjoy historical fiction and those who have outgrown the American Girl books may like this. As in other books in the Girls of Many Lands series, an afterword supplies more historical information. There's also a plug for American Girl products. Kathleen Odean.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Among the debut titles in the Girls of Many Lands series (see Spring Pearl, reviewed below), Hill's (The Year of Miss Agnes) finely detailed novel set in a Yup'ik Eskimo village in the 1890s feels mesmerizingly authentic. Minuk, the narrator, is 12 the spring that the missionary family arrives, and like the other children she is fascinated by the sight of her first kass'aq (white) woman and child. She can't imagine what the "sort of pink butterfly" hanging from the clothesline is (a corset, which astonishes her still further), and when Mrs. Hoff invites her inside for a cup of tea, she sits on a chair for the first time (and tips hers over) and slurps loudly, "to be polite." These initial misunderstandings may be comic, but the encounters between the Hoffs and the Yup'ik have grave consequences. Mr. and Mrs. Hoff condemn the villagers' rituals and practices. Yet, as seen through Minuk's eyes, the customs make sense, and Hill demonstrates that the Yup'ik belief systems are at least as coherent as Hoffs' version of Christianity ("If your god is love," Minuk asks Mr. Hoff, "why does he make people burn in hell?"). The author penetrates Yup'ik culture to such an extent that readers are likely to find the Hoffs more foreign than Minuk and her family. At the same time, the author doesn't glamorize the villagers, in particular exposing the severe conditions facing women. Not only the heroine but the vanished society here feel alive in their complexities. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) FYI: Other titles in this season's launch of the Girls of Many Lands series: Neela: Victory Song by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (HC -597-5; PB -521-5); Isabel: Taking Wing by Annie Dalton (HC -593-2; PB -517-7); Cecile: Gates of Gold by Mary Casanova (HC -594-0; PB -518-5). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-9-A remarkably honest picture of life in a Yup'ik Eskimo village in 1890 that pulls no punches. Minuk, 12, is coming of age at a time when the first American missionaries are appearing in the upper reaches of the Kuskokwim River in western Alaska. Readers witness her first encounter with everything from chairs to written language and Christianity, and observe the friendly and respectful initial reception of the Yup'ik villagers to the outlanders. There are moments of humor as when she observes the newcomers' laundry line and sees something that turns out to be a corset. When Minuk's cousin begins her menstrual cycles, readers learn how the Yup'ik welcomed girls to womanhood. The eventual culture clash is portrayed in an honest way, and readers will mourn with Minuk the devastating effects of western diseases on the Native Alaskan population. Hill bows to the first-person series convention, but manages to create a clear and believable voice for her protagonist. This provocative book will prompt thought and reflection, and is particularly revealing and honest in its portrayal of the village's introduction to a proselytizing belief system that conflicts with their own values. The afterword will help readers learn more, including what life may be like for contemporary Yup'ik girls. Historical photos add to the textual explanations, although the inclusion of a picture of the Russian Orthodox church in Sitka is about a thousand miles off course. Nonetheless, a fine achievement.-Sue Sherif, Alaska State Library, Anchorage (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.