Sarabeth Metu Alivaktuk Holden’s family loves bananas and in her new children’s book Benny the Bananasaurus Rex by Inhabit Media, Benny goes bananas.
“When our older one was two he couldn’t eat enough bananas. He could eat five bananas a day no problem,” said Holden, explaining the story behind the book.
Holden is the president of the Toronto Inuit Association, where she currently lives and her family has roots in Qikiqtani.
One year Holden held a banana-themed party for her son and that’s where the idea for the book was drawn from.
“My life was very bananas at that point,” she said. “That’s where the inspiration came from, family and bananas.”
“I’m always making up stories and singing silly songs to my kids just to make mundane tasks a little bit easier. In this case, I was singing to them one day, singing about bananas and talking about bananas and I wrote it down, I turned it into a manuscript from there and (focused) on creating a story I thought warmed hearts and satisfied the sweet tooth.”
Two Inuktitut words are highlighted at the beginning of the story: Anaana and Anaanatsiaq, the words for mom and grandmother respectively. In the book, Benny shortens it to siaq.
Despite living down south and living in an English-speaking household, that Inuit identity through her family in Nunavut is still there.
“I was raised mostly in the south and went back and forth from Pangnirtung and Iqaluit. I always know I have that family there and that’s something I grew up with, knowing my family is always going to be there and they’re a part of who I am no matter where I am,” said Holden.
“We just had our first summer where they really got to spend some time with their cousins, the Inuit interpretation of cousins, not just first cousins and they loved it. They ask to see their cousins and we call them all the time. I think that’s a part of who they are.”
When Holden’s author copies came in the mail she let her son do the unboxing.
“He flipped through the book on his own and he told the story from his own perspective. It was amazing. He was so excited to share it,” she said.“They can relate to it and love it.”
Benny the Banasaurus Rex was published by Inhabit Media on Sept. 20 and was illustrated by Toronto artist Emma Pedersen. It is available on the Inhabit Media website and on Amazon.