A Promise is a Promise is a story co-written by Robert Munsch and Michael Kusugak. Unlike others of Munsch’s picture books, this is a departure from the tales of typical American children facing school yard demises real and imagined. Instead it’s a highly cultural piece that, while not classic Munsch, still makes for an amazingly good read kids and adults will enjoy.
This story is based on an Inuit legend and is set in Hudson’s Bay. It focuses on a child named Allashua who is warned by her mother not to go fishing on the sea ice. Monsters, called Quallupilluit, live under the cracks in the ice and pull children down into the depths of the ocean. Allashua promises her mother not to fish on the sea ice. But, of course, Allashua does not heed her mother’s warning and breaks her promise. As she’s fishing, Allashua begins to feel invincible. She taunts the monsters under the ice and they capture her.
The Quallupilluit are frightening creatures and murmur in horrid whispers as they drag children under the ice. They chant, “Human child, human child, ours to have, ours to hold, forget your mother, forget your brother, ours to hold under the ice.”
As imagined, A Promise is a Promise takes a look at the importance of promises made. Children will see what happens when Allashua breaks her promise. Allashua tells the monsters that she will bring her brothers and sisters to them if they will let her go. The Quallupilluit, though monsters with hearts of stone, agree and know they must keep the promises they have make.
Allashua confesses to her family that she has disobeyed and broken her promise. Mother devises a plan to trick the Quallupilluit and save her family. Eventually, through careful trickery, the family triumphs over the creatures.
Much more detailed and involved than most of Munsch’s picture books, this book is for more advanced readers. But as with all of Munsch’s stories youngsters will be entranced. Older children will learn from the moral of this story—that a promise is a promise.