CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 8. . . .October 22, 2010.
Unipkaaqtuat Arvianit: Traditional Inuit Stories from Arviat.
Iqaluit, Nunavut: Inhabit Media, 2009.
127 pp., pbk., $29.95.
Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.
Review by Gail de Vos.
How Fog Came to Be
Everything has its own beginning and each beginning has a story of how it came to be. Even the fog has its own origin and the story that goes with it goes like this:
Long ago hunting for subsistence was commonly done on foot. Hunters would climb mounds and hills in search of any game or caribou they might see close by or in the distance.
One time a man was out hunting and he climbed a hilltop to search the surrounding area. While he was on top of the hill, a big brown bear came up behind him. The man turned around to get a different view and there, right in front of him, as the brown bear. Totally surprised, there was nothing the man could do - even if he tried to run away, the bear would attack him before he could escape. So the man did the next best thing: he lay down on the ground in submission and played dead.
Inuit elder Mark Kalluak has translated and illustrated six tales that he collected in the hamlet of Arviat, Nunavut, in this approachable compilation. The tales, presented in both Inuktitut and English, engage the reader with explanations of the first creation of fog and lightning and thunder, as well as stories of the animal people and their interactions with the humans in their environment. Kalluak begins the collection with a simple tale of why children should not stare at the moon, but most of the stories are longer and more complex in their language, format and presentation of mythology. There is a distinct oral tone to the stories, complete with repetition and rationalization of some of the exploits undertaken by the various characters, to aid readers unfamiliar with the culture and stories. The coloured illustrations are rendered in a naive artistic style that helps to clarify some of the nouns that have not been translated into English.
Recommended for upper elementary and older students because of the harshness and reality of the climate and mythology that these tales represent. Also recommended for collections of Inuit mythology. Volume 2 of the tales will be published November 2010.
Gail de Vos teaches at the School of Library and Information Studies for the University of Alberta and is the author of eight books on storytelling and folklore.
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