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Agnes Nanogak. Introduction by Robin Gedalof McGrath.
Edmonton, AB: Hurtig, 1986.
116pp., cloth, $12.95.
ISBN 0-88830-301-7. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Legends-Arctic regions.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up

Reviewed by Joan McGrath.

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

The world of the Inuit storyteller is vastly different from any other. Commonly accepted conventions do not apply: virtue goes unrewarded as often as not, and the doers of good perish miserably and meaninglessly; evildoers escape retribution, or are punished for reasons that appear strange to a non-lnuit. A couple, who murder a young man with whom the faithless wife has been dallying, come to grief not because of her infidelity or their shared crime of violence but because they lie to the young man's parents when questioned about his disappearance.

People in these legends frequently change into animals, fish, or birds, or choose a non-human husband or wife. No-one appears to find this odd or even unusual. Children are handed from one family to another in an apparently off-hand fashion. To the outsider, it all seems rather like observing a play performed in what seems to be a familiar tongue, but in which the performers obey conventions that are never explained and whose real meaning can only be guessed at; oddly fascinating, sometimes beautiful, overall, mystifying.

These tales are a sequel to the earlier collection, Tales from the Igloo (Hurtig, 1972), for which Nanogak supplied the illustrations. In the present volume, she is both storyteller and illustrator. The twenty-two tales are divided into three categories: five are "Tales of Birds and Beasts," five are "Tales of Adventure," and twelve are "Tales of Sorrow and Revenge." Haunting, often violent, all conjure up scenes as exotic as the other side of the moon to most of the Inuit peoples' southern countryfolk. Twenty-two full-page colour prints are as striking as the stories they illustrate. A notable addition to the collection of Inuit legendry.

Joan McGrath, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, ON.
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