THE ENCHANTED CARIBOU
Volume 14 Number 4
The Enchanted Caribou is an old Inuit tale, retold by Elizabeth Cleaver with the use of shadow puppets. The story is about a young maiden named Tyya, who wandered far from home and became lost in a fog. She is rescued by a young caribou hunter, Etosack, who takes her home to his tent and offers her food and shelter. Etosack warns Tyya not to let anyone into the tent while he is away hunting. But Tyya is tricked by an evil shaman, a spell is cast on her, and she is changed into a white caribou. When Etosack returns from his hunting, he is saddened to find Tyya gone, but, in a dream that night, Etosack is told how to use magic to change Tyya back into a woman. Inuit hunters from that time on have always been kind to white caribou, in case it might be an enchanted person.Cleaver's use of the collage technique was quite new to Canadian children's books when she first introduced it in such books as How Summer Came to Canada (Oxford, 1978), The Mountain Goats of Temlaham (Oxford, 1969), and The Loon 's Necklace ¹. She created forms and backgrounds from brilliantly coloured and densely textured monoprints, and childlike figures from linocuts; occasionally using real materials such as grass, birchbark, evergreen branches, fur, and pearls. The use of shadow puppets is another unique technique for storytelling, as demonstrated in The Enchanted Caribou. At the end of the story, the reader is instructed in making shadow puppets with the patterns included from the story. In an article in Canadian Children's Literature no. 39/40 about Elizabeth Cleaver, William Toye describes a conversation in which she pledged "to devote her life to making beautiful books for children if her life was spared after undergoing surgery for cancer. This goal remained constant and paramount in the seventeen years that remained to her, and resulted in twelve books - three of which she wrote." This story is a wonderful one to be read aloud and re-enacted with shadow puppets. Suitable for pre-school and elementary school age children.
Barbara Egerer Walker, Etobicoke P.L, Etobicoke, ON
¹ Reviewed Vl/3 Summer 1978, p. 125.
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