Authors: Katherine Kirkpatrick
This is a work of fiction. All incidents and dialogue, and all characters with the exception of some well-known historical and public figures, are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Where real-life historical or public figures appear, the situations, incidents, and dialogues concerning those persons are fictional and are not intended to depict actual events or to change the fictional nature of the work. In all other respects, any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2014 by Katherine Kirkpatrick
Jacket art copyright © 2014 by Sam Weber
Map illustration copyright © 2014 by Joseph LeMonnier
Photographs copyright © Kim Fairley/Silas Ayer (
) and courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
Wendy Lamb Books and the colophon are trademarks of Random House LLC.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Between two worlds / by Katherine Kirkpatrick. — First edition.
ISBN 978-0-385-74047-0 (hc)
ISBN 978-0-375-89924-9 (ebook) — ISBN 978-0-375-87221-1 (pbk.)
1. Inuit—Juvenile fiction. [1. Inuit—Fiction. 2. Eskimos—Fiction. 3. Race relations—Fiction. 4. Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin), 1856–1920—Fiction. 5. Arctic regions—History—19th century—Fiction.] I. Title.
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For Wendy Lamb
), aka Billy Bah: sixteen-year-old girl
), aka the Fat One: Billy Bah’s husband
), aka Ally: mistress of Robert E. Peary
), aka Sammy: son of Robert E. Peary and Ally
): Ally’s husband
), aka Bag of Bones: orphan boy
): Billy Bah’s older sister
): Nuljalik’s daughter, Billy Bah’s niece
): Nuljalik’s husband
): Billy Bah’s older brother
): Billy Bah’s mother (ghost)
): Billy Bah’s father (ghost)
Marie Ahnighito (
) Peary: daughter of Robert E. Peary and Josephine Peary
Josephine Peary, aka Mitti Peary or Jo: wife of Robert E. Peary
Lieutenant Robert E. Peary, aka Pearyaksoah (
) or Bert: explorer
Captain Sam Bartlett: captain of the
Duncan Gaylor: a sailor on the
Christopher Sutter, aka Grease Beard: an engineer on the
Charles Percy, aka Old Charlie: cook/steward on the
Matthew Henson, aka Mauripaulak (
), “the Kind One” or Matt: African American explorer, aide to Robert E. Peary
): grandmother of Tooth Girl and Runny Nose
), aka Tooth Girl: granddaughter of Navarana, child friend of Marie Peary
), aka Runny Nose: Navarana’s grandson, Tooth Girl’s brother
): Navarana’s daughter, mother of Tooth Girl and Runny Nose
): father of Tooth Girl and Runny Nose
): adopted daughter of Billy Bah’s parents
): boy from Itta
): Minik’s father
): man from southern Greenland
I climbed toward the sky, my fingers curling around the cold rocks, thousands of shrieking birds around me. Just under my feet the sheer red cliffs dropped to the water. Though it was summer, it was still cold and the wind felt fresh. I let it brush my face while my husband, Angulluk, sprang on ahead. “I don’t see why we need to climb so high,” I said. “We’re passing the birds lower down.”
“Quiet, woman. You don’t know any more than the seaweed floating in the ocean.”
He said this even though he knew I was smart and he often boasted of my talents, especially at making warm and beautiful garments. In our land, a good fur coat or boots can make the difference between life and death. Angulluk the Fat One and I had been married for three summers. In the white man’s years, I was about sixteen and he nineteen. He was lithe and strong—“fat” was what the villagers called a lazy person.
Angulluk had taken me on a path that angled and narrowed, so we had to reach for rocks, with hardly any
footing. My head felt faint when I looked down. We climbed until I needed to catch my breath.
My land was the top of the world! That was what Lieutenant Peary, the explorer, had told me. On a day like today I could believe that the world was round, the North Pole was capped with ice, and everyone but my people lived below us. Reaching an outcrop, I took a moment to look down to Itta, my beloved village. It was always home to me in summer, when the birds returned and our people stayed put. At other times, many hunters and their families journeyed to the south, where the snows melted earlier and caribou grazed. Just beyond where the beach curved, rock igloos and skin tents appeared like shell beads on a necklace. Offshore I could see rocky shoals dotted with walrus, and beyond, many small islands, odd and lovely shapes among the ice floes in the shining water.
The sky was so clear I could see across the sound to
, Musk Ox Land, what the white men call Ellesmere Land. It was known for good hunting, though our people rarely crossed the dangerous sea ice to go there. Now, in summer, I could hear the cracking and groaning of giant icebergs out in the bay.
We climbed higher, where glossy black-and-white auks nested above us on every ledge and filled the air with their musical piping. Angulluk knew how to find them.