CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 2. . . .September 11, 2015
In The Dreaded Ogress of the Tundra, Neil Christopher and Larry MacDougall terrify and delight readers with tales of the Amautalik, giant ogresses that wander the Arctic tundra in search of children to eat. This is a new version of Stories of the Amautalik which was published in 2009. In the CM review for the original book, it was suggested that the book be available in hardcover format and that more illustrations be added. Christopher and MacDougall do not disappoint as this new hardcover version is full of spine-chilling detailed illustrations and additional content.
The Dreaded Ogress of the Tundra is divided into different sections. In the Introduction, there is an explanation of the Amautalik, including their grisly basket cage to hold children. Then Christopher tells two different stories of children escaping the Amautalik. These stories are so well-written that you truly feel like you are listening to someone tell you the story.
While one story is significantly longer than the other, both stories involve children who have wandered away from the adults in the village and are prey of the Amautalik. The children use their traditional knowledge and quick thinking to escape. Both stories end with a note that is like a warning for children. The last section contains illustrations and descriptions of four different ogres and ogresses from across the Arctic region.
The detail in the presentation of the book is truly outstanding. Instead of using an asterisk to indicate a footnote, there is a tiny ulu knife. The footnotes provide the readers with helpful pronunciations for Inukitut names and words. Each page is yellowed and appears aged and dirty, adding to the eeriness of the book. MacDougallís illustrations are remarkable at capturing the bookís macabre nature. Some illustrations tell the story; others are like diagrams, while other pictures have bugs scuttling across the pages.
The Dreaded Ogress of the Tundra would make an excellent read-aloud for older children for students (ages 9 and up). The ghoulish nature of the book has a definite cool factor that would appeal to this age group. Like a good horror story, Christopherís stories and MacDougallís illustrations scare you to bits while reading, yet you donít want to stop. For many readers (adults like myself included!), the book would also be an introduction to the supernatural creatures in the oral storytelling tradition of the peoples of the North. I was incredibly creeped out as I read The Dreaded Ogress of the Tundra; I loved it and wanted more. Perhaps sequels based on the other Arctic ogres and ogresses presented at the end of the book could be next.
Dr. Kristen Ferguson teaches literacy education at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay.
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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.