________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 21 . . . . February 10, 2017


Nanuq: Life with Polar Bears.

Photographs by Paul Souders.
Iqaluit, NU: Inhabit Media, 2016.
96 pp., hardcover, $27.95.
ISBN 978-1-77227-124-9.

Subject Headings:
Polar bear-Arctic regions.
Polar bear-Arctic regions-Pictorial works.

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

***½ /4



Ever since I can remember, I know about people hunting. When I was a teenager, my father took me polar bear hunting with dog teams… We travelled far from our camps to go polar bear hunting. My father didn't always have a successful polar bear hunt, but he would have success from time to time. There was a saying, too, that said, "Don't ever want to have polar bears arrive, because polar bears know. If we say we want the polar bears to arrive, they might come and terrify us." I have heard that from my father. He also said that we should never mistreat animals or make fun of them, and that we should never wish for polar bears to arrive in our camps—such as saying, "I want the polar bears to arrive so I can catch one—because the bears know and might come and terrify people. We should never talk badly about polar bears. No one should say that polar bears are not scary, or anything like that. That goes for all the animals, but from what I have heard, polar bears have been the scariest animal.          Daniel Qattalik, Igloolik

If you want to know polar bears, the best ways would be to study them in their Arctic home or to live near them. Nanuq: Life with Polar Bears combines both elements through the use of stunning close-ups by an award-winning wildlife photographer and first-hand observations from Inuit who "share a landscape with these imposing predators." The photos show polar bears as skilled hunters, powerful swimmers, in close-knit families and, above all, as masters of their domain. The expressions of long-standing beliefs, the anecdotes, traditional stories and facts about the bears that accompany this collection reveal much more: we gain insight into the bears' level of intelligence, how stealth and ingenuity are revealed in their behaviors, and how they have adapted to a harsh environment. Readers will gain respect for polar bears and a better understanding of their place in nature.

      Photographer Souders captures the bears in more than the familiar majestic poses, showing them in many aspects of going about their daily lives on land, ice and in the water. Shots of the bears in the sea are especially arresting; for instance, the head-shot of one animal floating barely beneath the surface near an ice floe, images of huge paws propelling the bear through the water, or a bear peering from the sea over an icy edge with no land in sight. Their awe-inspiring size and strength—their presence—in the barren landscape will impress readers. Some details of the camera equipment used would have added interest. Locations of the photos are provided.

      To get to the heart of the beast, though, readers have to read the accounts of Inuit, some from childhood recollections, and others from scary encounters with the massive animals. They reflect wisdom handed down over generations that has fostered a healthy respect for these enormous carnivores. The traditional stories are a treat to read, with each sharing a valuable lesson. The five-page account by one assistant to biologists working to track and tag the bears is a gripping, tension-filled tale that readers will be unable to set aside to the end.

      If readers can't travel to the land of the polar bear to see it first-hand, Nanuq, Life with Polar Bears will help to satisfy their cravings.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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