​​The Seal Oil Lamp – An Adaptation of an Eskimo Folktale (1988)


Written and illustrated by Dale DeArmond

Published by Sierra Club Books

38 pages

Note: there are 22 wood engraving illustrations in this book. Click on any image to learn more. Information may not be available for some images.

From the foreword:

Poor Allugua! Blind from birth, the seven-year-old Eskimo boy knows he can never be a good hunter and provider. And because he will not grow up to be useful and self-sufficient, Eskimo law decrees that he cannot be allowed to live. So when it comes time for the village people to go to their annual fishing camp, Allugua's parents must leave the boy behind, sealed in their dugout house, to die of cold and hunger. Heartbroken, Allugua's mother lights the seal oil lamp for the last time and kisses her son good-bye.

All alone with his songs, his games, and his own thoughts, Allugua bravely prepares to die. But the kindly little mouse people that creep into his house have other plans for him – and events take a magical turn, with a surprising outcome. Retold in spare, simple language, this traditional Eskimo folktale of despair and triumph has the power to move today's readers just as it did listeners long ago. The bold, lively wood engravings perfectly evoke the spirit and customs of life as it was lived in the old days when this story was new.