N is for narwhal.

This past June at the end of the school year, me and my students became obsessed with this Scatergories-type game called “Alto!”  Because fifth grade Spanish vocabulary is somewhat limited, we had a rule that one of the words could be given in English, because, in the end, it was supposed to be a fun game.  When the letter “N” came up and one of the underdog teams shouted “ALTO,” I was excited to hear some new voices.  There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned “quiet student finally finding their voice” moment.  So, when they got to the category “animal,” my heart sank.  I had to disqualify them.  They wrote narwhal.  “Um, I think we need to use real animals, chicos,” I said.  You want to hear a room full of twenty-five 10-year-olds go crazy?  Try telling them that an awesome unicorn-like creature (that, in reality, actually does exist) doesn’t exist. They looked at me/ yelled at me like I was some fool who actually believed that the world was flat, and had just tried to convince them of this fact.  Talk about losing credibility!

Since that fateful day, the pesky narwhal sure has poked his little nose into my life in other ways.  Remember back to my late night screen printing class?  Claire’s print was of a narwhal! You can see her beautiful work below. I asked some other non-10-year-olds, and sure enough, they all knew about narwhals.  I consulted the Google machine.  One of the entries calls it, “the best mammal in the ocean.”  There’s a Facebook page dedicated to it.  National Geographic refers to it as “the unicorn of the sea.”  In fact, in the Viking times, narwhal tusks were sold for more than their weight in gold to people believing they were unicorn horns.  And I was thinking it was something out of the latest YA sci-fi fantasy series! Ha!

Today, I set out to redeem myself with the animal kingdom by creating a stuffed animal effigy of this not-so-mythical arctic creature.  Although it wasn’t my intended result to make a caricature of the poor beast, that is what happens when you use a combination of intensely bright colored fabric, not enough stuffing, and absolutely no pattern or warm-up.  In hindsight, I probably should have just written a haiku.

A posse of narwhal men.

Cutting out the creature

Stuffing that pesky tusk with cotton balls. Not an easy feat!

Kind of scary, if you ask me.

His poor lumpy body magnified by the afternoon sun.

Sources for all of my narwhal knowledge? Where else but National Geographic and Wikipedia.

Narwhal, as depicted by Claire.

9 Thoughts on “N is for narwhal.

  1. Jessi on July 23, 2010 at 12:30 AM said:

    I love him! He needs an exotic name, starting with N of course…

  2. molly on July 23, 2010 at 1:15 AM said:

    I love him too! The perfect fabric for his oceanic body..and oh my! what a fancy horn you have mr. narwhal.

    Nathaniel? Nevin? Nigel? Norvin?!!

    Can’t wait too meet him!

  3. I think it could fit into the “M” entry with that great tail- mermaid or merman? Very creative in the sewing department!!!!

  4. Emmy on July 23, 2010 at 3:49 AM said:

    Haven’t you seen “Elf”???? (with Will Ferell) Buddy talks to Mr. Narwhal before he heads off into the Candy Cane Forest… (if you haven’t, I swear I’m not making this up/a crazy person)

    also, I like Norman 🙂

  5. libby on July 23, 2010 at 4:49 AM said:

    Not only are you phunny, but you’re a learnin’ me a sumpin’ too!

  6. Claire on July 23, 2010 at 8:04 PM said:

    I love his colorful tusk!

  7. I’ve figured out the name: Noe (like Noe Valley in SF!) and pronounced like Knowey.

  8. Jessi on July 24, 2010 at 12:16 AM said:

    I like Noe. Noe the Narwhal. He would fit in with Stellas toys.

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