________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 8 . . . . December 7, 2007


Stones, Bones and Stitches: Storytelling Through Inuit Art.

Shelley Falconer & Shawna White.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2007.
48 pp., cloth, $24.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-854-5.

Subject Headings:
Inuit art-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Inuit artists-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Inuit mythology-Canada.

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up.

Review by Gail de Vos.

**½ /4


"For me, the story or idea behind my sculpture is more important that the actual technique. That's what I want people to see when they look at  my work. The story is more serious to me than actually making the piece." Oviloo Tunnillie in Northern Rock, 1999.

This moving and powerful sculpture reveals the emotion and hardship experienced by the Inuit woman sculptor. The elderly woman reaches outward from the stone mass, demanding our empathy, respect, and sorrow. p. 8.


Six Inuit artists are presented in this striking book which focuses on their pieces collected by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Ontario. Each chapter includes a brief bibliography of the artists Oviloo Tunnillie, Joe Talirunili, Jessie Oonark, Lukta Qiatsuk, David Ruben Piqoutkun and Kenojuak Ashevak, followed by information about their particular art form and photographs. The authors, curators at the museum, have included welcome background information for the young reader about the life styles, cultures and materials used to create these works of art. Unfortunately, although it is part of the subtitle, what are not provided in a satisfactory manner are the stories themselves.

internal image

     After receiving this book to review, I was fortunate to be able to make my way to the museum and savour these works for myself. This personal connection is what is missing from this book, and, if the stories were truly part of the telling, it may well have been available for the reader without having to make the journey. The excerpt above is an example of the story the authors told regarding Tunnillie's sculpture "Woman Quarrying Stone." They followed this with encyclopedia-type  entries on "Korok Inlet Serpentinite" (the soapstone used for this piece), "Quarrying,"  "Carving," "Kinngait (Cape Dorset)," "E7-779," "The North," "A Note about  Place Names," and "Tuberculosis." In subsequent chapters, information is provided about mythical creatures who are the focus of the artists' creation and concise bits of the traditional stories that may have influenced the artists but unfortunately, not enough to satisfy.             

     Also included is a map of Canada which indicates, pictorially, the location of the creators of the six works of art, and brief selected bibliography.


Gail de Vos, an adjunct professor at the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, teaches classes on Canadian children's literature, young adult literature and storytelling.

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.