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Vita Rordam.

Ottawa, Borealis Press, c1981.
44pp, paper, $14.95 (cloth), $6.95 (paper).
ISBN 0-88887-936-9 (cloth), 0-88887-077-9 (paper).

Grades 3 and up.
Reviewed by Dale Simmons.

Volume 11 Number 6.
1983 November.

Payuk and the Polar Bears is the adventure-filled tale of a Cree Indian boy who leaves home in search of his father. Lost in the wilderness, he fights for his survival, battling the elements in constant search for food. Winter approaching, Payuk is injured and just as it seems he will starve to death, he is found by Peshew, an outcast. Peshew sets out to find Payuk's father, Kinook. Days pass before the two men return, only to find that snow has covered the Shelter, effectively hiding Payuk. The day is saved by Payuk's heroic dog, Atim. In a happy ending, Payuk and the men return to camp, where Peshew is accepted once again.

Vita Rordam, the story's author, came to Canada in 1953. She has lived in Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ontario and has also spent several years in a small Indian community on Hudson's Bay.

Rordam's intermittent use of Cree is interesting, though one wonders how many children will have the patience to flip back to the glossary each time to learn the English meanings.

The illustrations, in black and white, are adequate but uninspired. The cover is so low-key that a child would probably not give the book a second glance. A map at the beginning of the book locates Payuk's home.

Overall, the story is an uncomplicated and pleasurable one. Young readers will gain insights into the daily life of the Cree before the coming of Europeans. For this reason, it is recommended for public and school libraries.

Dale Simmons, National Library, Ottawa, ON.
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