________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 10. . . .November 6, 2015


An Inuksuk Means Welcome.

Mary Wallace.
Toronto, ON: Owlkids, 2015.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-77147-137-4.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Rebecca King.

** /4



For thousands of years, people living in the Arctic have built stone towers called inuksuit to guide them across this land of snow and ice. A single marker is called a inuksuk. It can mark where to find food or how to get home. It can even be a way of saying, “Welcome”.

In this book, each letter of the word inuksuk is represented by an Inuktitut word. Together, the letters create an overview of life in the Arctic. Look for inuksuit to guide you as you read.

I is for inuksuk, the stone messenger that stands at the top of the world.
N is for nanuq, the powerful polar bear of the North.

An inuksuk means welcome…
          …but inuksuit can mean many other things, too.


Aside from the 88 words of the introduction and the pictures and descriptions of seven types of inuksuit on the last page, the complete text of An Inuksuk Means Welcome is 94 words, which includes the pronunciation of each word in the acrostic. To me, there is something out of balance when the introduction equals the text in word count. If there were more substance in the text, perhaps the reader would not need to be told that “the letters create an overview of life in the Arctic”.

internal art     As is acknowledged on the verso of the title page, “This book contains material that has previously appeared in I is for Inuksuk. Indeed, the publisher of this work, Owlkids Books, also published I is for Inuksuk under its Maple Tree Press imprint. Moreover, but for the second paragraph of the introduction, the entire text and illustrations of An Inuksuk Means Welcome are drawn from the earlier book. The illustrations have been reorganized, and the additional information provided in the earlier version has been omitted from the two double-page spreads for each letter, but otherwise the material is the same. The illustrations for the 2015 version have better production values and really pop off the page. However, the extra text in the 2009 version provides information missing in the 2015 version, information that helps to round out the “overview of life in the Arctic”. By removing this extra text, Mary Wallace and Owlkids Books have, in effect, created a “lite” version of the 2009 book.

     The descriptions of the seven types of inuksuit might have been more useful if they had been included with their explanations in the body of the text where appropriate, rather than seeming to be relegated to the end of the book, almost as though they were an afterthought.

     Mary Wallace has created some beautiful illustrations that are rich with colour and movement. They demonstrate her love for the people and land of the Arctic.

     The question still remains: Would I buy this book? If I had a limited budget and was looking for a picture book on the Arctic for the 3- to 7-year-old range, I would choose the 2009 I is for Inukshuk because of the additional textual information provided. An Inukshuk Means Welcome, while containing beautiful illustrations, is lacking in substance. This is not a bad book, just not a particularly good one. Three stars for illustration but only one star for text.

Recommended with Reservations.

After 25 years of service with the Halifax Regional School Board, Rebecca King, a teacher-librarian, retired.

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.
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