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Children's Fiction Orphans & Foster Homes

Orphan Ahwak

by (author) Raquel Rivera

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Sep 2007
Orphans & Foster Homes, Survival Stories, Native Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2007
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2007
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


Aneze, a young Inuit girl, is left for dead after her village is ripped apart by a wife-raid; her father and brother are killed and her mother is kidnapped.

Aneze is the only survivor. She renames herself Orphan Ahwak as she struggles to survive on her own, first in the forest and then in a remote world of tundra and sea-ice. She endures cold and hunger and befriends people whose customs are completely foreign to her. Through it all she remains determined to become a hunter and to find a place in an often hostile and terrifying world.

About the author

Raquel Rivera was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. After graduating York University with a B.F.A. in Visual Arts in 1987, Raquel Rivera moved to Barcelona, Spain, for two years. There she found work as a teacher of English, pursued her drawing and learned Spanish.

Some years later, she left Toronto again to live in Singapore. While working as a project manager and copywriter for a graphic design firm there, Raquel was able to produce a series of artist books. Her "Small Books" now tour North America in Projet mobilivre/Bookmobile ( and are included in the collection at Montreal's Bibliograph/e Zine Library (

In 1996 Raquel and her future husband Kim moved one country north, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They started a website design practice and founded Site Dish! ( to house interactive projects experimenting with art, writing and interface design for the web. At the same time, Raquel was able to pursue her writing and drawing online in web art collaborations with Montreal-based artist, Jeannette Lambert—work which was featured in online journals and festivals around that time.

In 1999 Raquel began raising a family and focusing exclusively on her own writing and art. She has since published poems, exhibited her drawings and written three children's books: Arctic Adventures, Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists, Orphan Ahwak and Tuk and the Whale.

Raquel maintains a book review website, In My Hysterical Opinion. She now lives in Montreal with her husband and two children.

Raquel Rivera's profile page


  • Short-listed, Rocky Mountain Book Award (RMBA)
  • Winner, Quebec Writers' Federation Literature Awards - The Janet Savage Blachford Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens
  • Commended, Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) Top Forty

Excerpt: Orphan Ahwak (by (author) Raquel Rivera)

"A hunter knows he is never alone." She had heard Father say that once.
Aneze looked into the trees. She spoke out loud to the bush. "There's always you, Chickadee," she said to the small birds skittering above. "And if I stare long enough at the sky, I'll see you, Eagle, circling with your wife. You will show me where Rabbit and Vole are hiding. And nearby in the stream, you are swimming, Jackfish. And you, Beaver, you are working on your house."
"You see," Aneze told the woods. "I'm not alone at all."

Editorial Reviews

"Rivera skillfully interweaves fact and imagination. This little story is a true gem."


"Aneze's adventures, and the folklore woven through the story, will appeal to both boys and girls."

Resource Links

"Charming...full of adventure and atmosphere."


"A skilful blend of fact and fiction, Rivera fashions a mesmerizing page-turner that is filled with many touches of early aboriginal life."

St. Albert Gazette

"Rivera has written this story with touches of humor and tenderness."

CM Magazine

"Orphan Ahwak features a female protagonist who is strong and resilient."

Library Media Connection

"The author's biggest achievements in this work are two-fold: her creation of a character who portrays the strength of the human spirit, and her ability to immerse us into a foreign world so completely that we miss it when it's gone."

Canadian Children's Book News

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